ROAR Spotlight #7: Lynnette McFadzen

 As America’s oldest advocacy organization for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer-identified and unlabeled people, BiNet USA facilitates the development of a cohesive network of independent bisexual and bi-friendly communities; promotes bisexual and bi-inclusive visibility; and collects and distributes educational information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity with an emphasis on bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer (bi+) communities.

Lynnette has an extensive and impressive bio. Please read it here before enjoying the interview.

ROAR: Who is a feminist you wish the world knew more about?

LYNNETTE: I would say Trans activist and writer Julia Serrano. In her new book, Outspoken: A Decade of Transgender Activism and Trans Feminism, she discusses the evolution of transgender activism and transfeminism. Covering over a decade of her work, she delves in with great accuracy, detail, and analysis the effects of Tran’s misogyny and trans-exclusionary feminism. Julia is the one who clarified words like “cisgender.” She shows how bisexual+ and Trans communities often overlap in terms of individuals’ identities, community concerns and disparities, and treatment from the larger LGBTQ community. Personally, she has helped me understand the truly diverse and fluid world we live in. I had the pleasure of interviewing her twice, and she is a truly amazing thinker.

ROAR: You are the Board President at BiNet USA. Can you tell me what has been the most important part of your work there?

LYNNETTE: Bringing visibility for the bisexual+ community, and bringing awareness to all about our unique disparities. We are a community in crisis. We suffer high rates of intimate partner violence, rape, suicidality, mental and physical health disparities. At the same time we feel isolated and removed from the larger LGBT community, where our needs are often not met.

ROAR: What does feminism mean to you?

LYNNETTE: Feminism for me is a continuing battle to fight misogyny, classism, heteronormativity, and racism, all of which intertwine to create systemic oppression. We are conditioned on a very subtle level all our lives to defer to white male authority. Until we all, including women, unlearn this and educate our children on equity for all, especially in gender roles, we will continue to suffer the violence of misogyny. Feminism is for everyone, and it MUST be intersectional.

ROAR: How do you combine feminism and bisexual activism?

LYNNETTE: The two things are inseparable actually. For me personally, as for many members of the bisexual+ community, feminism informs the way I think about gender, and how that thinking influences my own identity, gender presentation, and that of my friends and fellow community members. No matter where we identify on the gender spectrum, feminism helps us understand that there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to be a man or a woman, and that it’s ok to identify with both or neither of those labels too.

ROAR: Why is bisexual activism in the current political climate more important than ever?

LYNNETTE: As bisexuals, we are in a unique position to see the world beyond black and white, this or that, one or the other. Our community intersects with so many others. We cannot separate ourselves from them. I believe that because we know what it is like to have our needs sacrificed to obtain “larger” goals, we understand how to manage in times of crisis when resources are scarce. For example, the entire LGBT community asked for all to rally around marriage equality, while the unique needs of individual communities took a back burner. The Trans community, in particular, was thrown under the bus, so to speak. I believe we are here to remind those in power there is room for everyone at the table. You can stand for everyone. You must not leave anyone behind.

ROAR: What does that activism look like to you?

LYNNETTE: Much of our work surrounds education and support via social media and organizational training about the unique issues facing the bisexual community. We raise awareness of the effects of biphobia and bi erasure, and how they contribute to higher rates of violence, physical and mental health issues, and even suicide among bi+ people of all genders. I also produce The BiCast, the podcast for the bisexual+ community, to bring information and support, especially to those who feel isolated and alone. We are in our fourth year of broadcasting.

ROAR: What next?

LYNNETTE: Keep standing up. Keep standing in front for those most vulnerable. Lock arms and keep moving. Onward and upward.

Ashley Perez lives, writes, and causes trouble in Los Angeles. She has a strong affinity for tattoos, otters, cat mystery books, and actual cats, but has mixed feelings about pants. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She runs the literary site Arts Collide and does work of all varieties for Women Who Submit, Jaded Ibis Press, Midnight Breakfast,  ROAR, and Why There Are Words. Her work can be found at The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, The Weeklings, Red Light Lit, and others. You can find her on Twitter at @ArtsCollide.

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