My response to the on-going debate over at stfubinarists over whether ‘bisexual’ is an inherently binarist term that erases non-binary and genderqueer identities:
It seems to me that the homosexual/heterosexual binary is considerably more binarist than the concept of bisexuality. Bisexuality was originally coined by sexologists to mean both homosexual and heterosexual, both attracted to those who are the ‘same sex’ and those who are a ‘different sex’, which does semantically cover everyone.
If you argue against ‘bisexuality’, surely you should also oppose people who claim to be ‘heterosexual’ but would only have a relationship with one of the binary genders?
In my experience, the bisexual community is considerably more accepting of non-binary gender identities and those who fall outside the binary, while both the gay community and normative straight society are significantly less accepting of us. I think the binarist/ciscentrism of wider society goes without saying, but I also often hear or read gay people define their attractions in term of other people’s sex/genitals, such as gay men saying their sexuality is ‘cock’ or lesbian women claiming they’re allowed to be attracted to ‘pre-operative’ trans men regardless of how they identify.
I’ve been active in the UK bi community for a decade (although I ID as queer/romantic asexual myself) and I’ve found it extremely accepting of non-binary identities, considerably more than many trans groups I’ve been a part of (some of those were even actively hostile towards me, especially ten years ago). UK BiCon has had workshops on genderqueer and androgyny since at least 2001 and was one of the first conferences I’m aware of to provide gender neutral bathrooms and require respect for other people’s pronoun preferences.
And yes of course there are binarist bisexuals (although the UK bi community is actively hostile against binarist prejudice), but I’ve met very few of those in proportion to prejudiced people self describing as gay, lesbian, straight and even binary trans.
So perhaps we should be focusing our efforts on challenging the homo/heterosexual binary and how both sides often define their sexualities in ways that are potentially extremely binarist and gender essentialist, rather than challenging a community that’s historically been one of our biggest allies and is one of the safest and more accepting spaces I’m aware of for expressions of non-binary gender.
See also, the Bisexual Index’s FAQ: http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/index.php/Bisexuality#binary