Date of Award

Fall 9-21-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Counseling Psychology




Jason D. Reynolds (Taewon Choi), Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Massarelli, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Frank D. Golom, Ph.D.


bisexual, heterosexual, intersectionality, identity development



The current study explored bisexual cisgender women’s experiences regarding passing as heterosexual, which Dyar et al. (2014) defined as the perception that one’s bisexual identity can be concealable and that bisexual individuals can choose to appear heterosexual with different-gender partners to avoid heterosexism. Utilizing intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989/1993) and Brown’s (2002) bisexual identity development model as the theoretical framework, the present study related passing as heterosexual to bisexual individuals’ identity validity while exploring factors that facilitate or hinder this process. This qualitative study explored the experiences of 12 bisexual cisgender adult women through semi-structured interviews in the constructivist-interpretivist paradigm (Ponterotto, 2005). Interviews were conducted using Skype or phone and analyzed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology (Smith & Osborn, 2008). Emerging themes were discussed with support from participants’ quotes regarding their experiences. Themes included factors related to passing as heterosexual as well as the impact of intersectionality on decision-making for coming out versus continuing to pass. Themes also captured validity-hindering factors (assumptions of heterosexuality, experiences of invalidation, and negative relationships with the LGBTQIA+ community) and validity-facilitating factors (specific experiences of external and internal validation, recommendations for others). Clinical implications informed by an intersectional focus and limitations of the study were also discussed.