Here’s Why: LBT Women’s Heath Week

It’s Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Women’s Health Week – running from Monday (March 9th) through to Friday 13th. It is there to highlight how – taken as a whole – bi, lesbian and trans women face particular and bigger health challenges than their cishetero sisters.

In turn this is one of the areas where the growing trend over the last 15 years to publish research about the LGBT communities broken down by strand has helped highlight how things are different for bi people – sadly all too often with bis reporting particularly poor experience. Previously we would be amalgamated to produce figures

For example 42% of bisexual women report a long-term mental health condition (GP Patient Survey 2019) compared to 27% of lesbians.

28% of bisexual women and 14% of lesbians said they’d deliberately harmed themselves in the last year, compared to around six per cent of adults in general.

And – against what stereotype and assumption would tell us – the teen pregnancy rate is higher for lesbian and bisexual women than for heterosexuals, with adolescent bisexual women being twice as likely as heterosexual adolescent women to become pregnant.

Both bi women and lesbians are more likely to develop cancer at some point in their lives than straight women. (4.2% of bi women and 4.4% of lesbians, 3.6% of straight women).

The organisers say that, “the aim of LBT Women’s Health Week is to raise awareness about the health inequalities which affect women in LGBTQ+ communities, to make it easier for service providers to empower service users and for communities to support LGBTQ+ women.

“The week is also an opportunity to celebrate, highlight and learn from the work of groups and services which provide dedicated support to LGBTQ+ women.”

The main focus of LBT Women’s Health Week 2020 will be visibility.

This can be one of our biggest challenges especially as bi people – often we are in mixed-gender relationships and health professionals may misread us as being heterosexual, leading to incorrect assumptions about our sexual histories and hoped-for futures that turn into the questions and advice that is less helpful than it should be.

However as Wednesday is national Stop Smoking Day there will be a focus on issues around drug use and addiction that day.

One easy way to join in wherever in the country you are be a Twitter Q&A from 11.30-1.30 on Thursday 12th. They will be using the hashtag #LBTWomensHealth20 – so take the next few days to think about your questions and join in the discussion.  That hashtag will help you find relevant news and events all week.

There will be events around the country in cities including London, Rotherham, Manchester and Birmingham, including events in Parliament in London, and some online events as well such as webinars on LBT health issues.

Check out our Different for Bis webpage about research into bisexuality and the Different for Bis column in each issue of the magazine.