Different for Bis: Research News

New Zealand’s first major sexual health survey shows same-gender sexual attraction is more common among women than men.

The 2014/15 New Zealand Health Survey: Sexual and Reproductive Health Module (these things always have a catchy title) looked at sexual attraction, sexual behaviour and sexual identity. The survey had some 10,168 respondents aged 16-74 years.

It’s all about women and men with no space for gender diversity.

But within the binary, it has got some interesting numbers: 1 in 6 women (17.6 percent) reported same-gender sexual attraction at least once in their lifetime, but just 1 in 20 men (5.4 percent). This reduced to 4.3 percent of men and 8.6 percent of women when asked about the last 12 months.

While 2.3% of men and 3.7% women identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual, in itself perhaps a big drop from the numbers those last statistics might suggest, men were less likely to identify as bisexual than women (1.0% and 2.6% respectively).

Men were three times less likely to say they have ever been sexually attracted to both men and women than women to both men and women (4.6% and 16% respectively).

The report found a big gender difference in the age profile of bis too – for men the levels of bi identity by age grouping don’t vary much but for women under 45 rates of bi identity are sharply higher – around three times what they are for their male peers.

As with other surveys elsewhere in the world that’s showing more men than women identifying as gay, and many more women than men identifying as bisexual.

There are genuine questions that follow from that – including how much of this gap is down to a different social acceptability of admitting, even if only to yourself, what your attractions have been over time. And how the figures would look if people were able to express more than binary gender identity and attraction.

But it does suggest that bi groups would naturally skew “more female than male” in attendance if they are reaching the average bisexual, and perhaps a little bit of why ‘gay’ groups tend to be dominated by men.

More: www.health.govt.nz/ publication/sexual-and-reproductive-health-2014-15-new-zealand-health-survey