US: A Closer Look at Bisexual Older Americans

The term “bisexual” refers to a person’s sexual orientation and describes people who can be attracted to individuals of more than one gender. “Behaviorally bisexual” refers to people who may not identify as bisexual but who have experienced attraction to and/or sexual contact with people of more than one gender. The terms “lesbian” and “gay” refer to a person’s sexual orientation and describe people who are attracted to individuals of the same gender. The term “transgender” refers to a person’s gender identity and describes individuals whose sex assigned at birth is different from the gender they know they are on the inside. At some point in their lives, many transgender people decide they must live their lives as the gender they have always known themselves to be, and transition to living as that gender. These identities are not mutually exclusive—someone can identity as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and transgender.

America’s population is aging: by 2050, the number of people over the age of 65 will double to 83.7 million (from 43.1 million in 2012). And while the public perception of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is largely one of a young community, there are actually more than 2.7 million LGBT adults ages 50 or older living in communities across the country. Many LGBT older adults are bisexual. This report takes a closer look at bisexual older adults: who they are, their unique disparities and resilience, and recommendations for competently serving the community of bisexual older adults.

Bisexual people make up more than half of the adult LGB population, although among older adults, fewer people identify as bisexual. According to a 2015 YouGov poll, 1% of respondents ages 65 and older said they identified as bisexual, while 3% said they identified as gay or lesbian. See the infographic below. Many bisexual older adults are parents and partners. Perhaps unsurprisingly, among respondents to the National Health Aging, and Sexuality/ Gender Study, bisexual women were most likely of all LGBT people to have ever been in a different-sex marriage (70%) and very likely to have had children (52%).

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