Neither Here nor There: The Bisexual Struggle for American Asylum

Jaclyn Gross

Volume 69, Volume 3, 985-1008

Recently, it has become increasingly difficult for foreign nationals to successfully gain refuge in the United States from persecution in their home countries. The year 1990 marked the first time that the United States granted asylum to a homosexual claimant on the grounds of membership in a “particular social group.” Since then, several LGBTI asylum seekers have been granted the right to build new lives in the United States. Most recently, the country has increasingly included the transgender community in this group of fortunate individuals. Bisexuals, however, despite comprising over fifty percent of the LGBTI population, continue to be a significant subset of the community that consistently faces the most difficulty in attaining asylum in the United States. Asylum seekers who are discriminated against based on visible traits face far fewer roadblocks than those attempting to prove persecution for not being heterosexual.

There are fundamental societal misunderstandings about bisexuality and its presence in everyday life, and the judiciary suffers from a lack of targeted training that could help overcome this deficiency. Accordingly, the judiciary must take steps to prevent these deficiencies from resulting in stereotypes and inaccurate credibility determinations that may ultimately act as a bar to asylum. This Note proposes that all judges making asylum determinations be subject to a training program comparable to that of the LGBTI-specific module required by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for Refugee, Asylum and International Operations officials. With this training, the personal biases of decisionmakers that lead to skepticism of a claimant’s credibility can be reduced, thus avoiding miscategorizations of individuals who stray from perceived gender or sexual binaries.

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