Society giveth, society taketh away, and maybe society giveth again

Feb 1, 2019 | 2019 Winter - Bisexuality and Disability

By Julie Morgenlender

What do you think about as you head down the street? Maybe what to eat for dinner, something that happened at work today, the latest news headlines? Or maybe you think about how safe you are, if someone might attack you for who you are, or how to navigate a flight of stairs that prevent you from going any farther?

There’s a theory that disability exists only as a social construct, that once society removes barriers and provides accessibility, then people won’t be disabled. For some people that may be true. For me, that’s not the case. My type of disability won’t stop being a hindrance once someone puts in more ramps, though having more accessibility would definitely make my life much easier.

You know what would help? A change in attitudes. It would help immensely if I wasn’t assumed to be healthy just because I can walk one day or climb a flight of stairs another. It would help if we had more ramps, accessible public transportation, access to healthcare of all types, and social events held in accessible places.

On the other hand, to me, biphobia does exist as a social construct. I think about how safe I am as a woman holding the hand of another woman or sitting close to a queer-presenting person while on a date. I think about how uncomfortable I feel in some lesbian spaces as a bi person, while in others I have been told outright that I’m not welcome. The difference is, all of these concerns I feel will go away once society stops being hateful.

If I could snap my fingers and magically end ableism and get all of the health-related accommodations I need, my health would improve a lot and life would simply get much easier. Barriers would be removed and in their place would be helpful tools. I would still struggle, but much less so.

On the other hand, if I could snap my fingers and magically get rid of all of the biphobia, homophobia, and transphobia in the world… WOW! Can’t you just picture that? We could all be open about our orientations without fear or worry. “Coming out” would no longer be a stressful event. We could celebrate our community freely and safely, and be invited warmly into the larger LGBTQ+ community.

This gives me hope for our future as bi+ folks. It reminds me that it is possible that one day, biphobia will be gone. It may take a long time, but it’s possible. So I’m holding out hope for that. And in the meantime, a few more ramps and wider access to healthcare would be appreciated, too. Not to mention, a lot less ableism in the world.

Julie lives in Massachusetts where she serves on the board of the Bisexual Resource Center, volunteers with a chronic pain group, and is working on an anthology about living with chronic illness. Info about the anthology can be found at

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