Profile: Shiri

You can call me… Shiri

I identify as… Bisexual, genderqueer, anarchist, feminist, Mizrahi (=Arabic Jew), vegan, pervert, geek.

Other words I like: bidyke, queer, anarchabisexual, anarchafeminist, veganarchist, sex radical, gender deviant.

As far as third-person pronouns go, … with the feminine, please.

I’m attracted to… bisexuals, radicals, genderqueers, anarchists, people with long hair and glasses, smart people, sensitive people, feminists, geeks. People with a heart and a passion and a mind. Sharp and searing. Revolutionaries.

When people talk about me, I want them to… be respectful of my identities. To stop presuming that bisexuality is binary and that using it is transphobic. Not to speak about me as if I was cis when I talk about bisexual issues. Not to presume that I can’t be bisexual if I’m genderqueer (or vice versa). Doing these things erases not only my bi identity, but also my identity as genderqueer.

I want people to understand… that some of us choose a bisexual identification – not “in spite of” our genderqueer identity, not out of ignorance or lack of understanding – but out of love, rage, and passion for a word that is ours. That being bisexual means receiving biphobic responses each time you dare to say the word, and that we don’t need even *more* invalidation of our identity, but less. That we need to be solidary with each other, that we all need support. That this world is cruel, and all we have is each other.

And that we can make a revolution.

About Shiri
Activist, writer, and a few more things ;) Check out my blog at http://radicalbi.wordpress.com.

» Define yourself. «


Posted by on February 9th, 2012 at 08:00 am

Category: profiles 15 comments »

15 Responses to “Profile: Shiri”

  1. Clare

    i love the daring and the symbolism of your mask – the fact that it emphasises how varied we all are, and not to be judged according to a stereotype. Viva Genderqueer!!

    [Reply]

  2. radical/rebel

    I’d really like to know more about genderqueer people making a defense of “bisexual,” a word I have a lot of hesitation about.

    ANARCHA FEMINIST QUEER VEGAN struggle fo ev tho

    radical movement building, radical sex
    radical/rebel

    [Reply]

    Elle replied:

    I’d like to know more about the same thing, RadReb, but probably from the other side of the discussion. I personally use bisexual because most people just don’t know what pansexual means.

    The basic definition is that bisexuals are attracted to both men and women. I see how this can be considered transphobic or anti-genderqueer as it suggests a binary gender system, but remember that’s just the basic definition. Bisexual can also mean that a person is attracted to both “masculine” and “feminine” qualities, and sometimes those qualities present in the same person. I suppose this makes bisexuals anti-nuetrois, so maybe I’m not helping things.

    Or from another angle, if herterosexual means a person prefers partners with a different set of genitals and homosexual means a person prefers partners with a similar set of genitals, bisexual means a person is willing to get down with any set of genitals.

    [Reply]

  3. Elle

    Love your profile, Shiri. You seem like a person breaking a lot of barriers and I really respect that. I’m very happy to see another out and proud bisexual in the world.

    [Reply]

  4. Shiri

    Thanks everyone for the responses ^_^

    For those who asked about bisexual genderqueer identity, I’ve actually written about this quite a lot on my blog since I posted this thing above. So here are some links:

    Why I identify as bisexual and not pansexual: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/why-i-identify-as-bisexual-and-not-pansexual/

    Some differences and similarities between bisexuality and pansexuality: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/some-differences-and-similarities-between-bisexuality-and-pansexuality/

    Words, binary and biphobia, or: why “bi” is binary but “FTM” is not: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/words-binary-and-biphobia-or-why-bi-is-binary-but-ftm-is-not/

    Cissexism and transphobia in bisexual communities: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/cissexism-and-transphobia-in-bisexual-communities/

    Feel free to check them out ^_^

    Oh, and about the mask I painted on: I was preparing myself for a drag performance, doing The Phantom of the Opera.

    [Reply]

  5. Elle

    Wow, lots of new stuff to read. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  6. julie

    I can absolutely agree with what you are trying to discuss here with bisexuality. I stand with you.
    Bisexual pride!

    -Julie

    [Reply]

    Elle replied:

    Julie, you also rule!

    [Reply]

    Shiri replied:

    Thank you ^_^

    [Reply]

  7. Anonymous

    That last part nearly made me cry. In a good way. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Shiri replied:

    Thank YOU! *Hugs, if wanted*

    [Reply]

  8. Murri

    Having read both of the posts you linked to get a better idea of your mindset/thoughts/understanding on the bi/pan question, I have to weigh in here as a Pansexual:
    I know several Pan, and several Bi people, mostly online, but a few locally.
    Most of the Bi people are “out”, and have little problem. There are a few problems with people using the “Bi = slut” idea to judge them, but these people I am aquainted with aren’t generally seen as “gay” immediately and treated as such. (I live in the Southeast. “Gay” isn’t universally bad here, but it’s not without hazard, and can get you shunned/fired/injured in some places.) When talking with Bi friends about sex, I find that while most of them are ok with the concept of trans, intersexed, androgyne or hermaphrodite partners, most of them aren’t actually attracted to people who actively blur the gender binary in a visual sense. Sadly, most of my Bi friends are pretty hung up on a persons looks being the important thing, with considerations of WHO the person is inside in a personality sense being secondary. (This is said from my observations of what they say and do.) Most of them will ignore a plain/”ugly” looking person who flirts with them, even if the flirting is interesting/intellectual. And most of my Bi friends are VERY angry/defensive about their perception of how Bi people are “treated in the gay community”. Several are “Bi activists”.

    On the other other side of this, in the Pan group of people I know/am friends with, most are only somewhat “out” due to having very negative responses from some of the people they did tell in their lives. Pan is generally seen as “gay” immediately and “slut who would fuck a toaster or a dog” or as my own mom felt the need to point out to me when I told her: “people might think some really perverted things. There’s some real sickos using that word. I had to wiki it, but most people won’t.” I have personally heard the “doesn’t pan just mean you’ll fuck anything regardless of species?” response out of even pretty good (cis)friends who didn’t know any better. ( my answer is that it has to be sentient, and physically compatible enough to prevent one of us from getting injured… yes, the dolphins and elephants question came up.)
    As far as the Pan people themselves, most are much more interested in what a person thinks/says/does than their body shape. Yes, my Pan friends do just as much “ouch, Hottie alert!” commenting as my bi and cis friends, but I’ve not seen as much of the casual brush off of flirting based on appearences. And the hottie alerts don’t as often exclude hot androgyne or obviously genderbending individuals.
    Most of my Pan friends aren’t particularly angry or defensive, but a lot are frustrated at the assumption that they would screw someones dog/toaster/mailbox if it stood still too long. Doesn’t mean they aren’t activists – most of my Pan friends are to some degree, in the realm of working towards equal rights, freedoms and treatment for everyone, without focusing on “pan rights” specificly.

    For myself, Pansexual is home.
    I used but was never comfortable with Bi before I found the word Pan. And part of that has to do with aspects of the Bi community. I have only rarely heard the “binary argument” idea of the difference between Bi and Pan from inside the the Pan community personally, and I haven’t ever used it. But I have heard it used a lot in the same way you do, as something Bi persons accuse Pan people of saying to persecute Bi people. The Bi community seems to me to be too busy fighting for respect to embrace people.

    Less anger, please?
    The Pansexual community isn’t out to get the people who identify as Bisexual.
    We’re just as happy to cuddle you as anyone else, if ya’ll just be a little less prickly about things.

    [Reply]

    Shiri replied:

    Hi Murry,

    You wrote quite a bit, so I’ll try to follow up point-by-point.

    First of all, you seem to be implying that bisexual people don’t suffer oppression. I’d like to point you out to two reports which collected a lot of research data suggesting the contrary:

    The Bisexual Invisibility Report:
    http://www.sf-hrc.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=989

    (You can read a summary of this on my blog: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/snippet-4-the-bisexual-invisibility-report)

    The UK Bisexuality Report:
    http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/index.php/TheBisexualityReport
    (Which is summarized in the beginning)

    Second, you seem to be suggesting that most bisexuals you know are “bad people” or generally more cissexist and shallow than others. This view is biphobic as you seem to be judging bisexuals you know through stereotypes.

    You might want to take a look at this post at Rainbowgenderpunk: http://rainbowgenderpunk.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/stuff-pansexuals-need-to-know

    Third, you seem to be suggesting that bisexual and pansexual people are only oppressed inasmuch as they’re perceived as gay. For disproof of that argument check out the reports above.

    Fourth, you seem a little defensive about your pansexual identity. Since I didn’t mention pansexuality here at all, I wonder why you perceived my defense of bisexuality as an assault pansexuality? Is it because we’re so used to thinking of the two as mutually exclusive? If so, I think that’s unfortunate in many ways. Just to be clear: I used to identify as pansexual, and I still carry much affection for that identity. Part of the community work that I try to do is bringing bi and pan people together.

    [Reply]

    Murri replied:

    You DID mention pansexuality, in the blog posts you linked another commenter to. You mentioned it pretty clearly. And you made it clear that you think the Pan community as a general group is part of the problem in oppressing bisexuals. I’m not going to tell you your view is panphobic, because I don’t see what good it would do to accuse you of a phobic behavior.

    And you also missed my point. Your response was actually about what I expected. Angry, and assuming I am angry, or that I’m defensive. Or that I’m attacking you, possibly by suggesting you aren’t oppressed.

    I’m none of those things.

    Yeah, I seem to know some kinda shitty Bisexuals, when you look hard at their behavior. (Note, I only make the distinction here because they do. Most of the “Bisexuals” I know are quick to insist that they aren’t Pan.)
    But I don’t. They are nice people.
    What they suffer from is anger. They like to sit around and link me to half a million studies (my exaggeration, I’ve already been randomly sent the two you linked at least three times each) and talk about how Bisexuals are invisible/hated/oppressed/etc.
    And many Bi’s are, quite a bit. Granted, most people don’t automatically assume a bisexual wants to make sticky love to a toaster right off, they just tend to call them sluts and ignore them or beat the crap out of them. Or call it a phase. All of this happens. And that is fucked up.
    But it’s the anger that makes the Bisexuals I know seem to be self-centered and cissexist pricks. Because they’re letting their anger keep them scared of people. And some of that anger is directed inwards. If you can’t love and fully accept yourself without blaming at least part of why everyone oppresses you on you, you can’t accept and love others. So when someone who isn’t one of the pretty people society expects to be “one of those slutty bisexuals” hits on them, they get ignored. Because they’re assumed to not REALLY be flirting honestly. Yes, it’s a weird result. And I’m not assuming that’s what you are doing that is making you so angry at the world. But I do see a lot of people doing it in the “Bi Community”.
    I honestly think the reason I know more pan people who don’t act like that is a matter of acceptance of self. Or to put it another way: I don’t apologize for being Pan. I am not fighting for acceptance. I’m not defensive. I like/love/desire people regardless of sex/gender/expression, and I accept that about myself. I don’t assume that anyone is going to react badly to me being pan unless they have already expressed views that make it clear that they have animosity for non hetero/monosexual people. If they do react badly, I make it clear that I’m not going to be hostile back. Swing a punch at me, I’ll duck. Swing again, I’ll block, and if I need to subdue you to keep one of us from getting hurt, so be it, but I’m not going to fight someone because they hate that I’m pan. If they make a toaster/bestiality comment, I respond that I’m only attracted to sentients I can communicate with.
    And here’s the thing: I have seen someone who started off their response to finding out that I’m pansexual with hostility end up spending two hours asking me questions, and learning. By the end of that, they admitted that they didn’t know why they had always thought that bisexuals and pansexuals were bad people. They went away with a new opinion, because I didn’t bite back at them with the sarcasm and defensiveness of the oppressed. If I had, this same person probably would have slashed my tires, like they admitted they had the tires of a previous bisexual friend that I think they went and apologized to after that discussion.
    I’m not oppressed. I’m pansexual in a society that needs to learn what that means and grow up about sexuality. But you don’t make people grow up by yelling at them. You teach them. Calmly. If someone starts ranting their view at me with the fervor, spittle and volume of a baptist preacher from Montgomery, I lose interest fast.

    Please don’t respond with the assumption that I’m criticizing you, attacking you, patronizing you, belittling you, etc.
    I’m merely making a suggestion to you. I’d like to see more of the Bi community embrace acceptance and walk away from anger.
    I don’t see any difference between Bi and Pan except that one community seems to be doing a LOT of fighting for something we can take if we simply quit letting people make us act like we don’t have it.
    I’m not “out” to everyone in my community locally because I don’t feel the need to tell them that I’m pan unless the subject of sex/desire comes up naturally. If they ask, they find out. And I don’t act like my sexuality is abnormal. Quite a few of my local Bi friends are “out” because they feel the need to tell people who weren’t asking. It’s like showing off your new fake tits. If you want people to think they’re real, don’t show them off. Dress normally, don’t try to see if you can make them fall out of every shirt you own. People will notice them if they’re nicely shaped all on their own, and they’ll notice your face too.
    I’m not defined by being pansexual. Only when I’m spreading awareness of something gay/human rights related or flirting with someone do I describe myself that way. I’m an Artist. I’m a Geek. I’m human.
    I’m not defined by being white, or female, or pan, or pagan, even those those things are aspects of how I can be described.
    I deserve to have equal rights because I’m a PERSON.
    I don’t care if my sexuality is invisible. It should be. It should have nothing to do with how I’m viewed. I’m NOT fighting for acceptance as Pan. I’m fighting for EVERYONE to have the same rights, always.
    Frankly, if a green alien from Mars wants to pay taxes and be subject to all the duties of citizenship, they should have the right to vote, get healthcare, marry somebody, etc.

    Sorry about writing you such a long post.
    I’ll skedaddle now and quit talking your ear off.
    (Er, typing your eyes off?)

    *hugs*

    And “Murri” wasn’t a typo for the more common name “Murry” or “Murrray”. It’s just how I spell Myself.

    [Reply]

    Karina replied:

    !!!Shiri, you are AMAZING!!! I have been following this website for a really long time and never commented because I never had anything to say to anyone other than “You’re awesome!” (which, in retrospect, maybe is a totally valuable and useful thing to do). Anyway, I apologize in advance for how long this is. I have a lot to say. :)

    I am a 26 year old cisgendered female. I have struggled with my gender identity for most of my life, although I continue to use feminine pronouns, at least for now. As I’ve gotten older I’ve shifted toward more feminine clothes and presentation and away from androgyny as, simultaneously, I’ve become more serious about questioning my gender identity–one of the beautiful, sometimes seemingly contradictory, and amazing things about being queer. I have a number of really really incredible friends who are trans and genderqueer/genderfluid and who inspire me a great deal with their honesty and strength, and some who, at various points in my life, I’ve crushed on wicked hard.

    I’m currently in a hetero relationship with a very masculine-presenting cismale who identities fairly openly as queer. I struggle daily with ideas about how we are perceived by the outside world and sometimes I just want to shout “But we’re not this heteronormative!”, silly as it is.

    Recently I took out some of my facial piercings, cut off my mohawk, and dyed my hair back to its natural dark brown. I know pretty surely that I didn’t do this out of fear or anger or “giving up”–I’m actually at a pretty radical women’s college where most of my friends identify as queer or trans, so maybe it’s just another form of rebellion. Who knows.

    I guess the reason I give all of this backstory is because sometimes I identify as bisexual and sometimes I don’t. I tell my mum I’m bisexual because she doesn’t understand what queer means (and I’ve never, personally, gotten onto the pansexual wagon but I have plenty of friends who have and that’s cool); I like the vagueness and ambiguity of this term a lot, but “bisexual” is just as valid.

    “Bisexual” has this intense cultural connotation to it that is hard to deal with sometimes, but I still try to own it as much as I can. I’ve struggled with that identity while dating women (one of my ex’s made sure I didn’t talk about my masculine ex’s when we went out with her lesbian friends) and while dating men (one of my ex’s decided, in stereotypical fashion, that if I still identified as bisexual at my age I hadn’t “done enough soul-searching” and “picked a side”). Even all of the connotations of slutiness aside, I have struggled with being accepted in the queer/GLBTQIQ community while using my bisexual identity…once I say I’m queer I get many less hostile/quizzical looks.

    In response to the above commenter, I’m attracted to people who are attractive to me. That means a lot of things. I need to be physically attracted to the person I’m dating and have a healthy sex life, but that can’t be it. My current partner challenges me in a lot of wonderful ways, and we can have open and candid conversations about queer identity and sexuality (and photography and art and anarchism and indigenous identity politics and film, ect.) in ways I’ve never been able to have in any other relationship.

    I guess what I mean to say is that while you’re not trying to be biphobic, Murri, your comments are still hurtful. I’m not angry. Do I feel left out sometimes? Sure. Do I struggle with what “bisexual” means while considering things like a gender binary? Oh absolutely. But I think there’s a lot of value in reclaiming this identity that has been pretty well vilified inside and outside of the queer community.

    These are my two cents, as someone who has run the gamut of identities and still isn’t entirely sure who she is… and is pretty okay with that and enjoying the journey. :)


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