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 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/thelifelgbt/2014/11/differences-between-bisexuality-and-pansexuality
Author: Vanessa Celis
I'm not sure that we should be arguing about definitions and peoples interpretation of them though. Maybe I'm wrong?
"Gay" means the equipment in your pants does not (traditionally speaking) match the equipment in your head.
"Trans" Does it refer to someone who transitioned or desires to, or to someone with ambiguous genitalia?
"Bi" means you are not particular about what's in your partner's pants? Or does it mean you are not particular about the gender they present as?
WTH is "pansexual", then?? You are attracted to people who are not "attractive"?? I have a degree in technical communication and this article cleared up nothing for me. :/ I'll try rereading it when I am less tired.
Thank you for trying though :)
Thank you for clarifying these terms for me a little more. I identify as a bisexual but I could also identify with the pansexual. It's all very confusing. I personally don't care for labels so I prefer not to label myself to either categories. Love is love no matter what or who you identify with. Great post. The purpose of a blog is to get people to think. Your purpose has been achieved. I thought you were very friendly and open. Some people get offended over everything. It must be stressful to live like that.
This is brilliant and I needed to read that. It really resonates with me as I wonder how to sign up for online dating if I don't know "what" to call myself. :) Thank you so much!
In any case, pansexual does not mean a person is a pedophile or necrophiliac. It doesn't include any paraphilia (things like pedophilia, necrophilia, ibestiality, etc.). Pansexuality is just another way to talk about consensual adult sexual behaviors. All in this case means all gender identities, not ALL sexual attractions.
I was a child, a person. I grew up, still a person. I have been a wife, mother, grand, and great grandmother, and I am still and always have been a person, or human being. I am proud to be who I am, and have been, but I didn't run around trying to find another name to put on it, even though sooner or later someone will. Society has already labeled me heterosexual, and maybe I am, but I never needed the world to put that label on me. Even when I see that old person in the mirror, I know that child I was, when I was born, is still in there. I am many things, even old, but I don't care to be labeled old either.
Maybe I'm unity hopeful, or delusional or...whatever label someone wants to give me, but that's ok. Even the judgemental can find me out there tolerating your ignorance and willing to listen and help others as well as myself understand as much as possible
Bisexuality isn't the attraction to a male or a female, it's the attraction to genders the same, or other than your own. When bisexuality as a term was coined, the population was misinformed that there was only two genders. This type of thinking would also lead people to believe that a gay man can not love a FtM Transgender (even post operation), because in this definition, you're not LABELING them as their correct gender.
A MtF transgender is a female in my eyes, as well as a FtM is a male. So that would exclude intersex, which would be silly.
The truth is that bisexuality is a strong term, it's recognized by people in, and out, of the community. It has history, and it has stigmas that we're constantly fighting.
I'm sorry to say this, but this post is incredibly rude. Pansexuals have no right to define bisexuality, as they don't identify as it. Yes, everyone has their own definition, and that is fine, but what's NOT okay is putting even MORE of a stigma on Bisexuals!!!
(*I have friends that identify as pansexuals, so please don't think I am trying to say that pansexuality isn't a thing. Many Bisexuals are tired of having the stigma that we aren't willing to date other genders.)
Thank you for your reply and opinion. Like I mentioned earlier, everyone has a different opinion about what bisexual/pansexual means. I was asked by the blog manager to explain the differences between pansexuality and bisexuality. I don't see my post as being rude at all toward bisexuals, especially when I used to say I was bisexual for a long time. You could be bisexual and be attracted to all genders and that is fine. Perhaps I will clarify this in my next post because it seems to be pretty controversial.