Perceived Discrimination, Coping Mechanisms, and Effects on Health in Bisexual and Other Non-Monosexual Adults

Emilie E. Doan Van, Ethan H. Mereish, Julie M. Woulfe, Sabra L. Katz-Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Bisexual individuals experience unique discrimination related to their sexual orientation, which may increase their risk of adverse health outcomes. The study goal was to investigate how bisexual and other non-monosexual individuals experience discrimination, understand how they perceive discrimination to affect their health, and examine the ways in which they cope with discrimination by analyzing responses to open-ended survey questions. The sample included 442 bisexual and other non-monosexual adults, ages 18–68 years (M = 28.97, SD = 10.30), who either reported a bisexual identity or reported attractions to more than one gender. Gender identities included women (n = 347), men (n = 42), and transgender/non-binary individuals (n = 53); 29% of participants were currently located outside of the U.S. Participants completed an online survey, including three open-ended questions regarding their experiences with discrimination, how discrimination affects their health, and methods used to cope with discrimination. Themes related to perceived discrimination included: double discrimination of bisexuals and other non-monosexual individuals by heterosexuals, lesbian and gay individuals; bisexual invalidation and erasure; and sexual victimization. Themes related to the perceived effects of discrimination on health included: impact on mental health; impact on physical health; and effect of discrimination in healthcare. Themes related to coping with discrimination included: social support; resilience; and identity-specific media consumption. Findings demonstrate that bisexual and other non-monosexual individuals’ experiences of discrimination can be additive, based on other marginalized facets of identity, including race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. Our findings have implications for advancing bisexual health research from an intersectionality framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-174
Number of pages16
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Bisexual health
  • Bisexuality
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Discrimination
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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