By New Writer: Jane Garland
The sources of shame
The first feeling of shame about being bisexual came to me from conservative views – imprinted on my perspective – as to how a woman should be. Ideally, the mainstream version of a woman is beautiful and adored by males, and she adores males in return. Not males and females!
And then you have the trans angle. I felt that my claim to womanhood would be undermined by my bisexuality. If I was a transwoman, then why didn’t I like men the way most cis women did? Furthermore, there is a school of transphobic thought which regards it as suspicious that a much higher percentage of male to female transwomen are attracted to women than cis women are. Their logic is that the cause of these higher rates of attraction to women is because transwomen are essentially men. The end conclusion, therefore, like all transphobic thought, is – therefore, you’re not a real woman.
The above shame was originating from outside, but was further compacted by a factor that came from the inside: my long – and fruity – history of erotic entertainment on the internet. Let’s face facts: how many transwomen are there that haven’t been down some kinky rabbit holes which a ciswoman wouldn’t go near? I felt ashamed when I considered some of the porn I had consumed and it made me want to distance myself from anything kinky or unusual in the sex department: i.e being bisexual. I didn’t want to deviate from my idealised, perfect woman who was attracted to guys. I wanted to be a conventional hetero girl.
Finally, another source of shame were certain voices in the LGBT community, most notably those lesbians on the TERF side of the force. As you know, TERFS aren’t just vehement proponents of the idea that a trans woman isn’t a woman, but that trans narratives are an insult to women and yet another attempt by men to dominate female existence. It won’t surprise you to know, therefore, that if they didn’t believe I was a woman in the first place then they certainly didn’t accept that my attraction towards women was of a lesbian nature. TERFS actively try to shame any transwoman who identifies as lesbian or bisexual.
I absorbed all these sources of shame, and the effect wasn’t just mental… but manifested itself in the outside world. There were two girls from my sorority whom I did not want to lose the respect of (or worse no longer see me as a sister.) The president at the time was this amazing confident woman who radiated a strong feminine essence, which I could only hope to achieve. To have had her support and backing meant a lot to me. I was sure that if I divulged I was bisexual then she would have rejected me.
How I got over it…
The key to my liberation lay in my misguided notion of the ‘ideal woman.’ Basically, I formed two deep friendships with real (rather than ideal) women and I began to suspect there was no such thing as the perfect woman.
Each of these women was a mentor. The first was assigned to me by the sorority and the second was a friend I had made online. While I initially refrained, it wasn’t long before I felt comfortable enough to tell them I was bisexual. And guess what: it turned out one of them was a lesbian and the other was also bisexual. The shame subsided as they had entrusted me with the knowledge of their sexuality. Over time I was able to be myself around my sorority sisters and without that shadow of rejection hanging over me.
The other important factor in accepting my sexuality was therapy.
I was very fortunate to find a therapist that I felt comfortable sharing that feeling of shame and why I was feeling it. It did take some time to build a rapport so that I could express myself, but obviously, I warm up quickly to people as long as they seem to accept me in their space. By going to counselling, I was able to work through the guilt and break through the mental block I was putting on myself by talking it out. Honestly, therapy helps with a lot of things!