Differences Between Bisexuality and Pansexuality
Many questions arise when one proclaims that they are bisexual. But what about pansexual? Pansexuality is not a familiar term within people outside of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) community. I only learned about pansexuality in a feminism class three years ago. I had never heard the term before but when I learned its definition, I immediately came to like it. While I don’t mind identifying as bisexual, I prefer the term pansexual when it comes to my identity. But how are bisexuality and pansexuality different? Aren’t they the same thing?
How Bisexuality and Pansexuality Differ
The dictionary states the definition of bisexual as: “sexually attracted to both men and women”. Meanwhile, the definition of pansexual is: “not limited or inhibited in sexual choice with regard to gender or activity.” While it can be easy to say that both definitions mean the same, exact thing, the key difference between bisexuality and pansexuality rests on the focus on gender identity.
Bisexuality implies that there are only two genders, that being male and female. Pansexuality, on the other hand, implies that there are more than two genders. Pansexuals have no problem dating or sleeping with a transgender person, for example. This also includes people who fall out of the gender binary and consider themselves genderqueer (people who do not identify as just man or woman).
Pansexuality and Bisexuality -- Love Isn’t Based on Gender
One thing that bisexuality and pansexuality do have in common is that the people who identify as such usually don’t base their feelings on gender. Lately, I have noticed on social networks such as Tumblr that there is an active discussion between the bisexual and pansexual communities. A lot of bisexuals have come out and stated that they don’t base their sexuality on gender identity, either. They still consider and call themselves bisexual, though.
This has created some confusion between the two labels. But I think it’s great that there is an active discussion. If anything, it shows how fluid sexuality is in many people. Instead of it being as a concrete thing, sexuality is more complex and intricate than society likes to make it. Not everyone falls into the neat labels of straight or gay, and that’s okay. That doesn’t make pansexuals and bisexuals confused about their sexuality.
Choosing to Label Your Sexuality
For a long time, I had issues labeling my sexuality. I was ashamed of being bisexual and wanted so badly to just be a lesbian because of all the biphobia I had experienced outside and within the LGBTQ community. It’s something that I regret to say, but it’s true. Now, though, I am trying to accept and love myself more.
There is nothing wrong with being bisexual or pansexual. Also, I am learning that while labels are important in self-discovery and in accepting your sexuality, it’s okay to not know. Sadly, I have noticed that many people are so hung up about labels and try to be a living, breathing replica of the exact definition. Maybe we should focus more on ourselves instead of trying to live up to a textbook definition. That way there is more room for growth and happiness in our lives.
Celis, V. (2014, November 5). Differences Between Bisexuality and Pansexuality, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, February 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/thelifelgbt/2014/11/differences-between-bisexuality-and-pansexuality
Author: Vanessa Celis
The updated understanding of bisexuality is that you are attracted to your own gender + others. I think the notion that “bisexual” is an inherently transphobic label causes unnecessary stigma for those who identify themselves as bisexual.
^At this link you can look at Sara Ramirez putting it in better words than I can.
I just ask that you reframe your relationship to the word “bisexual”.
The reason for me why I wouldn’t come out as pansexual is it sounds a lot like professional (hear me out) because I live in a situation where being gay is “swinging the wrong way” and being bisexual is classified as “swinging both ways” to people that have no desire to learn anything about any sexuality. And because pansexuality isn’t a term that comes up a lot it sounds really silly... like you’re sexually attracted to pots and pans. It’s a term that I’ve seen made fun of, which is kinda hard to deal with for people.
“Pansexuals have no problem dating or sleeping with a transgender person, for example.”
You just insinuated that trans men are actual men and that trans women aren’t actual women. To say that if a bisexual person is attracted to a trans person they are actually pansexual is just transphobic and exclusionary.
Yes, that part made me so mad. Trans women ARE women and trans men ARE men. That was transphobic as hell.
honestly that was transphobic and that was hurtful against me cause i am trans
Grow up. Stop caring about the words other people use. Their words don't define you. You can define yourself. If you want to provide insight as to how a different word choice would be more accurate then great. But when you insult with "transphobic" and claim "hurtful" you just cause people to disengage from you. It just makes you sound like a constantly angry and unhappy person. It is so sad to use victim status as a sword to hurt others who say words in a different order than you would.
We are all human. We don't need to label ourselves. I am bisexual and I am proud. There is no need to label yourselves. We are all different and there is nothing we can do.
Should it matter who people are attracted to? Consenting adults are all that should matter...the only people that care enough beyond that are only admitting their own sexual discomfort.
This coming from a cis hetro male.
What sucks is those monikers shouldn't mean anything.
I had a crush on a female classmate (I'm female) and I thought, oh, I'm lesbian, but no, no, no, I was bi, because I still liked some of my male classmates. Then I met a pan girl this year, and I asked her what it meant, she said it met that she/he/they could like ALL genders. And a month or two later I met a transgender person for the first time, and that's when I figured out, I shouldn't assume gender on people because there is more than 2 genders, even though everyone (in my school) says there is only two, my friend, trans people, non-binary people, me, and may others say there is more than 2 genders! And I am using this for a compare/contrast essay and this helps a lot! Sorry if there is any grammatical errors.
There are only two genders, and there could be someone who identifies with lacking a gender so they call themselves non-binary. Please don't tell me you believe in all that Tumblr BS like star-gender and whatnot.
I always called myself bi, yet I’m dating a non binary person. Most of these comments have just made me more confused. I believe they all state what it means to them? So does that mean bi can be what I want it to be, and I can still be bi sexual and date genderqueer people? Also, you can be bi and date a transgender. For transgender people fall under whichever gender YOU identify them as. I personally identify them as the gender they became with time
Your question and point are valid but I just wanted to say transgender people don’t become a different gender over time. They are always the gender they identify as just with the wrong body.
Thank you this helped me a lot, because I’m currently struggling on my preference of gender
Doesn't matter what people tag you as, YOU ALL ARE JUST HUMANS!!!!! (We all are!!!!!!)
Is this labelling really important?????? We all are who we are..No Shame.
I'm a bisexual, a I wear it with pride. Don't need to think about so much, just carry on your lives people!! Be happy and mind your own business, you won't earn anything by judging and labelling, so just quit!!!!!!!!
**and I wear it with pride
You are so right!
You ask if "Is this labelling really important??"
Apparently it is - to you - as you go on to say you are bisexual.
Thank you thank you thank you!!! Now i fit!!!
I was told: mom, I am bisexual. But, boys dont like girls who are Really bi-sexual. They like it if they think it only means seeing a sexual encounter between two hetero girls. ( she used other words here) Otherwise they think that bisexual girls are only lesbians and dont want anything to do with them. They say they are like boys ( her experience only, navigating this process in 2019 at 13 years old) and if a boy likes a bi-girl then it's like saying he is gay. I can only sigh. Hold my tongue, try to share the progress of where we are compared to where we were, love that I have raised a being that feels I see them as that being and can tell me whatever...Alone I cry, cuss and want to beat people up. Why why why. Someone, somewhere, somehow, some phenomenon or whatever resulted in the human populi seeing penis with Male vagina with female and the majority now at this stage-- just know it as that and so, there must be nothing else. Humans just are a people so in need of validation they will go with whatever they have been shown as most popular, most regarded, most supported just....because --even if they themselves have no direct confirmation. That's important because if there is no DiRECT confirmation of ones beliefs
then they are simply implied but not confirmed. Maybe we were given an opportunity to be told something, understand it,learn grow, modify it accept it even-- just to be faced with the ONE thing that could make us re do all of this again, our kids. Newer generations. Kids evolved from all that we have learned thus far. In short, I typed a bunch of words here that mean nothing unless read. They wont be. It's like the labels we keep assigning EVERYTHING. Nothing has any value until we give it some. Give people value. Save the definitions and see the divinity
I think you were saying to just accept individuals as who they are and where they are in their identity. I think that is part of the process of becoming that we all go through as we try on roles that don’t fit until we finally accept the “essential me.”
Well, in some countries your web page would be closed, because talking about sex is a taboo there fore no sexuality labels are needed. Evenmore the act is only legally between man and woman only for breeding reasons and not for having fun and joy. There are also tribal traditions In some of these countries where women have genital cuttings. In Iceland for example was prostitution illegal as well as watching online pornmovies. According to the people of the island pornmovies are insulting to women discrimination their dignity.
Its nothing wrong having no desire for Sex, and Sex does not complete a person. Love or falling in love is not Sex, and Sex is not Love eventhough you can not claim to be in love with a person without having had a complete relation. I don't believe that persons of same gender fall in love or have attraction its just they hate each other want to punish or humble each other. You can also be loved by your surroundings and you don't need to need to have Sex because you already receive respect
So Breeding is just a choice or/and way of life-tradition, and not an organic or mental issue
P.S Breed boys, treat them as boys and don't ware them dresses, don't let them play with dolls.
I happened upon this site while trying to clarify the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality. (I am a psychologist and wish to be sensitive to the terms people use to describe themselves.)
My sense is that the meaning of certain words or labels may be evolving and this may add to confusion in communication. For example, there are two sexes, male and female. This is determined genetically. It used to be (I'm an older person) that the word "gender" was used to mean the same thing, e.g. on a form, you might be asked to identify your sex or gender - and there were two choices.
With changes in cultural understanding, people are now aware that there is something else called "gender identity" which, as of now, has no biological markers. It is based on a discernment of one's sense of oneself as male or female. Since we don't know what causes there to be differences between one's sex and one's gender identity, we do not consider mismatches (e.g. genetic male who identifies as female) to be a "disorder" but a variation in how people are. This variation is generally referred to as being transexual ("trans").
Sometimes trans people pursue a change in primary or secondary sexual characteristics through surgery/hormones. They remain genetically the sex they were born but may live their lives according to their gender identity, without or without medical intervention.
A more recent development in cultural awareness or expression is that there are some people whose gender identity may be both (as in fluid) or neither (as in asexual). Again, with no biological markers, this is something that people discern based on how they experience themselves. It is not clear to me if there has always been a significant number of people who identify as both or neither, or whether this is a cultural development. It is hard to know since open discussion of gender identity is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Gender identity is different from sexual orientation, the latter being the sex one is attracted to male or female (or both or neither). "Attraction" here means feeling inclined to engage in sexual behavior with someone, not simply thinking that someone is nice-looking or has a fun personality, etc.
However, issues of sexual orientation have become more complicated as more trans folks medically change their outward sexual characteristics and clothing/pronouns. Does one's sexual orientation include attraction to people who have made these changes? I think that must be a personal decision and doesn't need yet more labels - just discussion between the individuals considering a relationship.
With regard to people who are born with ambiguous genitalia or extra or missing chromosomes, these are "disorders", i.e. medical conditions caused by problems in development. Having such a medical condition does not make a person less worthy of love and respect. It is simply a challenge, as are many medical conditions.
In the end, we are all just people, seeking to live our lives in a happy and healthy way. I hope my comments haven't offended anyone and I don't mind being politely corrected if someone feels I am mistaken.
Nice to know when a professional is doing research! Thanks for trying to understand more about the LGBT community. You definitely got a lot of stuff right, except wording.... You said sexual orientation and gender identity are different, which is very true. However, before that you were using sexuality terms for gender identity. In all honesty, I haven’t heard of transsexuality, but if the word ends in “-sexual”, it’s referring to sexuality, NOT gender identity. The word you were looking for is “transgender”.
The same goes for “asexual”. What you were defining as asexual is actually non-binary, somebody who identifies as neither or both male or female.
Asexual is a lack of desire to engage in sexual activity with any gender. (Asexuality as a label has a large gray area, since even asexuals still can experience sexual attraction).
Hope that cleared stuff up!
asexuality is actually lack of sexual attraction not lack of desire for sexual activity. most asexuals are sex repulsed but some would engage in sexual activity (mostly for the satisfaction of a partner or to have children).
You're absolutely right! Asexuals can be sex-repulsed, but not all. I knew about asexuality long before I understood this nuance. An asexual person might have sex to have children or to satisfy their partner, they might only engage in sexual activity occasionally, or they may only masturbate. Masturbation is healthy!
Libido and sex drive are not the same. Libido is a biological experience that some asexual people still experience, even though they have no interest in having sex with other people. Being asexual, much like being trans or autistic, is a spectrum. Some people identify as grey asexual, which means they aren't completely sex-repulsed.
Thank you for this clarification. Engaging in these sorts of nuanced conversations are my favorite!
hiiii. So this article really helped. So thank you. I'm still a tiny bit confused though. My question is, if I'm bi, and feel attracted to transgenders, would I still be considered bisexual?
You would be considered pansexual, I believe.
No, no no. Oh my God, you both and this article. I swear- trans women are WOMEN. Trans men are MEN. If you like men and women, that obviously includes trans people because they are valid. And calling yourself "pansexual" because you like trans people is actually really transphobic.
Okay, being pansexual means dating someone who is either non binary or genderfluid which both are considered transgender, there’s transgender binary which is when One person who is biologically born female/male would identify as being male/female and then there are transgender non binary Which is when someone who is non binary or gender fluid meaning they are either none or both genders, so a bisexual would be able to date someone who is trans and still be bisexual while someone who is more willing to date someone despite their genitalia adding trans people and non binary/gender fluid would be considered pansexual
Yes. You can call yourself bi. Or pan. It really is what feels best and more comfortable for you. This gatekeeping about labels can be divisive, needlessly.
I call myself bi, rather than pan, because even though I have loved across the gender spectrum, I have a different attraction in traits exhibited for male presenting folk, than I do for female presenting folk, than I do for fluid or nonbinary presenting folk.
My partner identifies as pan. He is attracted to similar traits in people across the spectrum, regardless of their gender expression.
Again, it is personal to you, and what feels a best fit for you.
for some of the dumb people on here, THERE ARE MORE THAN 2 GENDERS. but there are 2 sexes (if you are not including intersex people). Sexes are male and female and gender is if you are a man or woman, and there are many other genders that people are unaware of. a bi person can be attracted to a transgender person, say they are ftm trans that person was born as a female but identifies their gender to be a boy. a bi person is attracted to the opposite and same sexes, or genders, which still works with a transgender person, they may be biologically female or male but they identify as a man or woman, a bi person can like a man that is trans or woman that is trans because they are attracted to those sexes or genders, some trans people don't identify as being boy or girl but as a different gender which I think pansexuals are attracted to.
Let's all identify as humansexual and call it a day.
LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK
A buzz term for changing times. Celebs like Miley Cyrus will jump all over it for attention. There will not be equality as long as racial and sexual labels exist.
I'm wondering what in the world - I mean seriously, in the history if the world - makes you think there can ever be any equality, ever?
My view on bi and pan is they're both basically the same thing but with pan you are making it clear that you are comfortable with being with anybody who falls under any category of non binary and such.
Like the definition of Bi is "romantically or sexually attracted to both men and women. While pan is "not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity."
To me, Bi and Pan are the same thing and can be used almost completely interchangeably, one of them just makes it clear they are open to all.
However to some people there may be a big difference in using one or the other. For example, someone identifies as bi and while they are supportive of whereever people fall on the gender spectrum, they personally prefer a life partner who conforms to a single gender and therefore identify as bi rather than pan. Or a bi person might have no preference what-so-ever but chooses to identify as bi simply because it is more commonly known.
I feel that it largely depends on the person because gender, attraction, and sexuality are very fluid things.
This is in no way supposed to be attacking bi people by saying they only think there are two genders, in case some people see it that way.
Also, just to clarify on my previous post, bisexual can also be defined as romantically or sexually attracted to two or more genders. doesn't have to be just male and female. it can be non binary and male, non binary and female, etc.
I really like Judi's reply. I had not heard the term pansexual until about a half hour ago. So I googled it and got here. Seems to me, losing the labels and just saying you are attracted to the person you are attracted to should suffice.
I apologize to any and all that may be offended by the comment I am about to post because I sincerely care about every individual on this planet and want everybody to be comfortable in their own skin and happy as people, BUT, seriously, most of you PEOPLE (I guess unless you identify as a non-person, like an animal or plant, or a rock for that matter) are getting way too hung up on labels and on wanting to fuss and fight about something that really shouldn't be anybody's business in the first place. Is it really necessary to have to constantly define and redefine your sexual status or preferences?! Reading all of your posts just now made me feel like I had entered the twilight zone. Most of society could seriously not care less about what subtleties and nuances of your gender and/or your sexual preferences are. It's because of juvenile discussions like what I just read that gives the LGBTQ-MNOP community the stigma that you are all out of your minds. But then of course, many of you go and blame the people who really are just indifferent, and trying to lead normal satisfying lives themselves, (and rightly so, imho) about your constant inventing of new labels to identify every lustful feeling or emotional whim that happens to strike you, and the subsequent blabbering about how you should label such feelings and make it forcefully known to everyone you talk to that you identify as x,y, or z. It's my sincere belief that you are not only hurting society by shoving this nonsense down our throats at every chance you can, but you are doing real damage to your very own psyche and emotional well-being as well. Sometimes, actually, I think MOST times, it's better for you to just be, and enjoy the moment, and stop worrying so much about how you're going to be perceived if you don't use what you believe to be the correct nomenclature regarding your sexual status. As the psychologists of the world today (and prior to psychological science, those who studied the anatomy of the soul) tend to say or relate, the world that you perceive around you and your perceptions of the way that everyone in the world view you, is more often than not, like a mirror showing you a reflection of how you actually perceive yourself. If you feel that people are hung up on gender identity, and on sexual preference, it's most likely the case that it is yourself having unresolved feelings regarding these issues. If it's animosity that you think you are perceiving from the outside world regarding these issues, more likely than not it's your own subconscious trying to tell you something, and for whatever reasons, you may have built up animosity or resentment towards yourself. My advice would be threefold; to be yourself, try not to obsess about it, and stop trying to conform to labels or add unneeded pressure onto yourself by thinking that you need a definitive status regarding why you had a particular emotion or feeling about something related to sexuality. Otherwise, you just might drive yourselves crazy with emotional insecurities, and cause undue stress and confusion to yourself. In a way, by conforming to what you think or perceive as society in general being concerned with your sexual preferences or identity, you just might be like the self-fulfilling prophet, and in actuality be the one who is provoking negative responses from others when they weren't there to begin with.
Honestly I just don't label myself, makes things easier. I guess I identify as Pansexual but I go with the flow and ride the wave. I hate having that annoying talk about my pansexuality so I keep it on the low and say I'm bi. No too much different and more well known.
Please read this article instead-
It better explains the pan vs bi conversation better. Don't be fooled by the "bi" in bisexual and think it has to mean only 2 genders. Again the article I listed above really describes the differences much better than I ever could in this comment section.
Honestly, it just seems like "pansexuality" is a... modernized?...term that has the same essential meaning as bisexuality. In a time when there are labels for EVERYTHING, it seems necessary to make room for "extra" genders... though I would have considered a trans person to be included in the "male" or "female" genders. I mostly feel like applying so many labels to gender is a mess, and is mixing up gender identity with gender rolls and sexuality where it isn't necessary to do so... but maybe that's just the new normal. Either way... my view has been and remains that sexuality is a spectrum, without easily defined boundaries. My husband identifies as bi or pan, depending on the conversation, but means the same thing either way. I don't really label myself, but am attracted to individuals of both/all genders. It's not nearly as complicated as people try to make it.
Hey I wanted to just comment that saying the whole pans don’t mind dating someone who is transgender after talking about bisexuals only dating male and female is in a way saying that transgender people aren’t qualified as male or female. A transgender woman is a woman and a transgender man is a man and would fall under the bisexual binary of if a person went for male or female. I apologize for the terrible wording of this comment, I hope I got my point across but otherwise I apreciate the forum!
Interestingly enough bisexuality doesn't refer to being attracted to men and women but actually refers to being attracted to two genders.
I really think that there is not really a difference I believe that trans people are the gender that they became/becoming fully so personally I identify as bi because the trans process is wanting to be and being the gender of your choice. So the difference is very small.
I completely accept both sexualitys (despite personally believing that they should/could be the same). The article above states that "Bisexuality implies that there are only two genders, that being male and female. Pansexuality, on the other hand, implies that there are more than two genders. Pansexuals have no problem dating or sleeping with a transgender person...". this annoys me because to me it seems that transgender women and men arn't being thought of as being a man or women which is what they want. by implying that a bi-sexual person will only date a cis man or woman but a pan-sexual person is open to both, makes me feel like you're not recognising what a trans person is which is a MAN or a WOMEN ( or non-binary). if anything a pan person should be thought of as someone who doesn't care what the person identifies as, for example men, women, and non-binary (if you want to add other genders go for it i guess). At the end of the day this is only my opinion and i dont expect everyone to agree or for it to be right.
Your comment makes a lot of sense, and I am bi but I don't mind dating somebody who has changed their gender. If you love a person, there gender, race, original gender, E.T.C shouldn't effect if you date them. If I love somebody, I don't care if they were born a man and now a woman vise versa, because it doesn't matter. And when somebody changes their gender, they should be called the gender they changed to. I forgot what else I was going to say, (LOL) but I agree. And I would like to stay anonymous because you would judge me for being this young but liking all genders.
Hi thank you for your responses because I am young actually about freshman ageand I'm very confused on my sexuality, at first glance it seemed I'm bisexual but I have never dated or even kissed a guy, sometimes I feel attracted to guys but not always. Apparently it takes a lot for me to be attracted to a male and that confuses me but the way I see it is that everybody is on a spectrum, the two points on the very ends are straight and to the left is gay but in between are the bi/pansexual people. Not everyone is in the exact middle, as I was typing this I realized that I am more towards the straight side but I do still like guys. Btw it doesnt matter how old you are to know who you are into. Most people I have heard about know when they are a child (from around 5-17 I have seen) hope this helps someone!
To many labels are put on people, we’lll read in the news paper or hear on the news about crimes “ prostitute found beaten last night “ you know what this person is a human being not just a prostitute maybe a mother, a daughter or son, a sister to son one!!! At one time was a child with hopes and dreams went to school so quit labelling I have children and grandchildren and they are all part of the human race what if we are all spiritual beings having a human experience !!!
You are very right!!