Health researchers and activists from across the US have formed the Bisexual Research Collaborative on Health (BiRCH) to promote discussions of bisexual health research and combat bisexual erasure.
BiRCH was formed at a meeting on bisexual health research chaired by the Fenway Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. The new organization’s plans include finding methods to raise public awareness of bisexual people’s health issues and planning a national conference on the topic.
Fenway Institute Co-Chair Judith Bradford, PhD, who also co-chaired the meeting at which BiRCH was created, remarked on the value of such gatherings. “For all of the remarkable progress that has been made in the field of LGBT health, we still simply do not know enough about the full range of health needs and health concerns facing bisexual people,” she said, according to Fenway Focus. “Today’s meeting was an important step toward addressing this significant gap.”
To back up her assertion, she pointed to the 2011 Institute of Medicine report on LGBT health, which she contributed to. According to the report’s brief, the committee found that overall, “research has not been conducted evenly across sexual and gender minority populations, with more research focusing on gay men and lesbians than on bisexual and transgender people.” (The full report can be read or downloaded here.)
Bisexual Resource Center president Ellyn Ruthstrom, who also co-chaired the Boston meeting, spoke of the importance of members of the bisexual community being included in discussions about their health and visibility. “By having bisexual leaders from around the country at the table with this diverse group of esteemed researchers, we are keeping the voices of bi people at the center of this important work.”
She added, “Our lives matter and the health inequities affecting our community need much more attention to change the dire statistics of physical and mental health issues affecting us.”
The activists and researchers present at the meeting identified many areas in which more research was needed, including the unique stressors and risk factors that impact the health of bisexual people, and the growing need to address health inequities within the bisexual community using proven interventions.
Northern Illinois University assistant professor Dr. Wendy Bostwick, who has done extensive research on bisexual women’s health and served as co-chair of the meeting, said “Today’s conversations were remarkably important, and long past due. We know that bisexual people make up half of those who identify as LGB and that health inequities are often most pronounced among bisexuals. Yet we are still lacking in funding, research, and interventions aimed at addressing these health disparities. With today’s meeting, we hope to change this landscape.”