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Differences Between Bisexuality and Pansexuality

November 5, 2014 Vanessa Celis

Bisexuality and pansexuality are similar sexual orientations but have differences. Learn more about the key differences between pansexuality and bisexuality.

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

Bisexuality and pansexuality are similar sexual orientations but have differences. Learn more about the key differences between pansexuality and bisexuality. 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.

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APA Reference
Celis, V. (2014, November 5). Differences Between Bisexuality and Pansexuality, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/thelifelgbt/2014/11/differences-between-bisexuality-and-pansexuality



Author: Vanessa Celis

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

DexxDe
February, 15 2018 at 12:51 am

Thank you, I wasn’t clear on the difference at all. Although I have always identified myself as bisexual gender never played a role in my past/current partnerships. I have always followed my soul, that person/persons out there that you just click with. Yes labels help clear things up and help people understand things better but I agree with you on how badly people get hung by them. Thank you again for the help. -from someone who is also learning to expect themselve aging-

Marion
January, 10 2018 at 11:33 am

Interesting articles as I never met a pan sexual person (or so I thought) before until recently. I think now I can identify as one. Used to be confused but not anymore. Thank you

Not confused at all
December, 11 2017 at 6:45 pm

Give me a break. Genetically you are either physically male or female no matter what is between the legs. Even if you change what is there your DNA is the same.. why do people like making labels and making things more complicated than they need to be. It doesn't matter to me whether the person is male. Female, "transgender", "transexual", "transvestite" or what ever label you want to use. I am attracted to the person and it doesn't matter what "gender" they are. If your DNA is male but you feel you should be female then fine and visa versa. Don't get caught up in all these dumb labels.. not everyone fits into a neat category or label. So what does it matter if "bisexual" is the same or different than "pansexual". As far as I'm concerned the LGBT (add as many letters as you want) has been a good thing until they got hung up on these stupid labels to try and make everyone happy. So the LGBT has lost their purpose. To diminish discrimination because you will NEVER eradicate discrimination. Human beings will always be afraid of things they don't know, understand or like. So stop labeling people cause labeling someone or yourself will make it easier for people to discriminate against.. we are ALL HUMAN BEINGS no matter race, color, religion or "sexual" or "gender" identity. So be yourself and treat everyone how you want to be treated even the people who might hate or dislike you.. cause hating them does no good and they don't care.. so be true and good to yourself and don't worry about what other people should call you. Unfortunately the LGBT is a guilty of discrimination as any other organization out there.. I never fit "their" idea of what a "bisexual" or "pansexual" man should look like. My head, face, throat, back, chest, arms, hands, legs and feet are heavily tattooed.. so I know how discrimination feels from both the LGBT and others.. sorry if the caps upsets anyone I use them for emphasis.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Sharing Information
December, 16 2017 at 11:38 pm

Hi dear my confused at all - love your post, just one quick piece of information. There are in fact people who are born intersex and have both female and male physical characteristics (testicals and a vagina for example), as well as only one x-chromosome and no y-chromosome (also possibly variations like two X one Y), also oftentimes no hormonal assignment to the male or female gender is possible. They are indeed inter-sex, by other than that completely normal healthy human beings (unfortunately except for fertility though). Sometimes they feel an identification with one gender as they grow up, sometimes they keep identifying as neither. People born this way often have their parents decide their gender at birth and the doctors “adjusting” the body by removing some of the anatomical features, often depending on hormonal treatment further on - that often becomes a problem when the assigned gender does not correlate with what they identify as later, which becomes especially frustrating if you grow up a man in a woman’s body but you used to have testicles as a baby but they were wrongly taken away from you for example. Or grow up a woman in a mans body but what used to be a vagina was operated into a penis, or development of your breasts were prevented by artificial hormonal treatment. They are around 0,2 if worlds population, but only during the last decades their voices have been heard as these things were always hidden and “corrected” after birth, possibly creating a very unhappy confused person, unless they conincidentally guessed the gender their baby identifies later on (but again - not all intersex people identify with either one gender). So that’s just some additions so information in your post ;)

Cecilia Clodfelter
October, 6 2017 at 6:59 am

Hey people of the internet, I see a lot of people who are like “I’m confused I don’t know what I am yet,” and I just want to say take your sweet time. You don’t have to know what you are yet, like if you know you are somewhere on the spectrum then you are just that and it’s okay to say that and not have a title. You don’t always have to title yourself, you can simplify things, you are allowed to not know what you are yet. I’m very well informed on things in the LGBTQ+ spectrum so if you have questions feel free to email me at cececlod01@gmail.com

Sarah Daysh
September, 25 2017 at 11:43 am

People are people who cares about if they are any of the above I personally think that if you love the person it shouldn't matter about if they are heterosexual pansexual bisexual gay or transgender they are a person and just a person

scientific knowledge is power
September, 19 2017 at 3:12 pm

"Bisexuality implies that there are only two genders, that being male and female."
That's because there are only two genders. Please, pick up a science textbook. You can't magically decide not to have a gender, and you can't change your gender like underwear. That's not how it works.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

DG
September, 24 2017 at 8:40 pm

You're confusing sex and gender there. Sex is what you're born with or "what's between your legs" as some people like to point out. Gender is social, meaning it's how society defines you or how you choose to be defined by society. Sex and gender are often used interchangeably, hence the confusion, but they are certainly different. Thus, bisexuality is something that believes in only two genders while pansexuality sees it as a spectrum.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Mackenzie
September, 30 2017 at 1:09 am

I agree with most of what you said, however, I wouldn't say bisexuality is someone who "believes" in only two gender. I would expand that to say that people who identify as bisexual are attracted to two genders- male and female- while people identifying as pansexual are attracted to the gender spectrum. Being bisexual doesn't mean we discount or disbelieve anything, it just refers to whom we are attracted. Does that make sense?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

GM
November, 15 2017 at 8:12 am

So instead of being called bisexual or pansexual, why not use the words bigender or pangender...this eliminates the sex piece and focuses exactly on gender. Society, in general, screwed up the whole process when heterosexual and homosexual came into being...lol

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Ariana Butler
December, 7 2017 at 6:30 pm

There is already such thing as bi gender and pangender but that’s to gender, what you identify as, while bisexual and pansexual are your sexuality, who you’re attracted to.

Cali
September, 19 2017 at 2:06 am

To put it in super simplified terms all pansexuals can consider themselves bisexual but not all bisexuals can consider themselves pan.

Bezza
September, 11 2017 at 5:17 pm

Really great article but one small thing. You said "Bisexuality implies that there are only two genders, that being male and female." However, I am bisexual know and acknowledge there are more than two genders, I just am not attracted to those genders.

Rohan Parker
August, 28 2017 at 2:13 pm

Hey all, I need education!!!! If someone can please direct message me over my email (rohspo1@gmail.com) or just message me on Facebook, that would be wonderful. All these terms confuse me, and I don't know what I am yet... please help

Steve
August, 26 2017 at 4:45 pm

I'm not sure that it really matters how you identify yourself. I am proud father of my 20 year old daughter who was born as my son. It has taken some time to get my head around it but I'm getting there. She has now told me that she is pansexual hence my interest in this topic.
I'm not sure that we should be arguing about definitions and peoples interpretation of them though. Maybe I'm wrong?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Anonymous
September, 15 2017 at 11:56 pm

We need more people like you in this world. Thank you. Some of my friends' parents have issues with their orientations, and I think it's so cool that you don't :)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Anonymous
September, 15 2017 at 11:59 pm

I personally am trying to find out whether I'm hetero, bi or pan; so your saying that labels don't matter has resonated with me quite a bit

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Nice Article
July, 3 2018 at 10:25 pm

Perhaps you are a virgin. You have no sexual attraction to anyone or you would be aware of it. Unless your comment is about the definitions of words? I had no sexual feelings toward anyone until after I had sex and recognized how my monthly cycle affected my impulses. Sexual feelings and body chemicals are somewhat intertwined. I think of homosexuality the way I think of robbing a bank; it may be fun, but that does not necessarily mean it is a good idea. I may have strong inclinations to rob a bank, but I don't justify my actions based solely upon what is pleasurable or enticing because actions have consequences.

Anonymous
July, 19 2017 at 11:30 pm

Is there someone or some material authorized to talk about this? I mean I was curious about these terms ,these being new to me and due to lack of examples locally. I thought I got a clear interpretation when I read the post, but as I scrolled down, everything went blank again. I would really like to know more about these stuffs. I am sorry if some of the words I used are rude or something. If they are ,it is due to lack of my vocabulary. I hope I get my point across without striking anyone as rude.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Ya ya
November, 21 2017 at 9:22 am

You can check out Bisexual.org foruch better definition of bisexuality. The term as defined in the dictionary is not same as how bisexual people define ourselves. I do not define “bisexual” as attracted to “only 2 genders”.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Just Sayin
July, 3 2018 at 10:06 pm

The word bisexual has a traditional meaning. Why would you use a term that does not suit you to inadequately define yourself to those who are accustomed to a traditional rendering of the word? Why call yourself "bisexual" if that's not what you are? That's like me saying "I'm a toaster, but I don't agree with your definition of the word "toaster", to me a toaster is a person who is sexually attracted to pizza ovens." You seem to be twisting words just to confuse people and get attention.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Luis
July, 11 2017 at 10:56 am

What is rude about it? Not trying to be rude, just genuinely curious.

Toby
June, 12 2017 at 6:30 pm

Pansexuals lack sexuality attraction based on gender. It doesn't need to imply that there is more than two genders. It's just simply you do not care for what you're dating on a physical level. That is all.

Sarah
May, 10 2017 at 11:38 pm

I really liked what you said and could relate!

Jesse
May, 6 2017 at 1:58 am

No, bisexuals do NOT only date men and women to the exclusion of trans people. That is grossly incorrect. As a bisexual trans man, I should know. Thanks for spreading stereotypes and misinformation about bisexual people.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lissa
June, 26 2017 at 9:38 am

Why don't you just nicely correct them?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Diana
July, 8 2017 at 4:39 pm

This article is indeed spreading a biphobic message so he/they are entitle to outraged. And people who wrote and approved this article should have politely informed themselves before, but they didn't.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jaimee
July, 29 2017 at 3:59 pm

They probably thought they did by just reading this article as this was supposed to be informative

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Still Confused
July, 3 2018 at 9:55 pm

Please define your terms. This discussion board is turning into an argument board because people are not defining the terms they are using.
"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 :)

Savannah
September, 10 2016 at 8:55 pm

I read this because i am currently struggling with my sexuality. for a while, I've been bouncing from straight, to bi, to pan. I wasnt sure. Thank you for writing this, it really helped me understand that i am pansexual, not bi.

Anna
September, 10 2016 at 5:39 am

I personally really firmly disagree with the term "pansexual", as a bisexual. To me, bisexuality has always meant "no matter with which sex you were born, I can be attracted to you". In no way did bisexual ever mean to me "I am attracted to two specific gender identities". It was never about gender, it's about sex, and there are two sexes - two, bi. Pansexuality is now suggesting that somehow everyone else excludes people with non-binary genders. As if you cannot be a woman who likes men, and be attracted to a transgender man, even though that person identifies as a man, it has to make you pansexual. I never excluded transgender people from my bisexual preference and I am not going to change the term that I have always identified with just because someone has decided that bisexuality cannot include non-binary gender identities.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Googleista
July, 3 2018 at 9:35 pm

Google: "ambiguous genitalia"

Katie
September, 5 2016 at 1:09 pm

There are only two genders; male and female. If someone is trans, they are that gender. If someone is genderfluid than they are both gender. If someone is agender, they are neither gender. I'm sorry if this makes me sound naive, but that's what I believe. So you're whole argument on how they are different doesn't really work.

Michelle Bross
August, 26 2016 at 8:38 am

Vanessa,
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.

Mariah
August, 11 2016 at 7:17 pm

Bruh, I thought I was Bi for like two months now, but today I was like, what is the difference between Pansexuals and Bi? so I searched it up, and then the article said that Pans don't care if your trans, or gender neutral and I was like...well damn. Because I have been crushing on a gender neutral person, and I saw a couple of Trans people online and my immediate thought was 'i'd date them!' so maybe i'm pan? *shrugs* i honestly don't know.

Ka'iulani
June, 22 2016 at 8:58 pm

I always said I was Bi until I had a crush on a transgender boy. After that point, my friends began saying I associate more with pan than bi. However, I still consider myself as bi because whether they're transgender or not, they still associate with one gender or the other. So I was just wanting an opinion on still considering myself as bi. Alike what you said, I hate labels. But at Pride this past weekend because of my friends saying I'm more pan that bi, I was pressured into buying a pan colored flag. I now regret it because I wanted the bi colors. I know it's a stupid thing to be commenting about and I shouldn't worry about what others think, but is it term-wise wrong to call myself bi instead of pan?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

kate
June, 16 2018 at 8:25 am

I know your comment (which is not stupid) is old, and I hope you've come to your own conclusion by now, but just in case: don't let your friends label you. If you don't like labels, it's ok to not use them. Just be whoever you are and don't worry about all that stuff or get fixated on it. Take it from me, I'm an old-ish queer and it's not worth it to get hung up on all that stuff. I very rarely even discuss my sexuality with anyone because who cares unless we are going to be sexual partners? Most of the time, things just happen organically and there's no reason to talk about it at all. Bisexual people can be attracted to transgender people. When I identified as bi, I was! The only reason I decided to change terms is that I discovered I'm attracted to genderfluid and genderqueer people as well (and am genderfluid myself). No matter which terminology you use to describe yourself, it's not going to be wrong and it might change over time. Either way, as long as you feel comfortable with who you are, you're doing great.

Krista
June, 26 2018 at 12:31 am

"No matter which terminology you use to describe yourself, it's not going to be wrong and it might change over time. Either way, as long as you feel comfortable with who you are, you're doing great."
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!

Anon
May, 5 2016 at 2:22 pm

But it doesn't necessarily make sense I mean there really only is two genders even if ur trans ur merely claiming to be of the opposite gender u were assigned at birth and either gender still fits into the binary ergo still only upholding the existence of only two genders so I don't really see any difference between bi and pan. Bi usually implies a lack of bias towards either gender which trans still fall under I've never seen trans as their own gender merely humans ascribing to the gender opposite of that assigned at birth.

Mads
May, 5 2016 at 7:10 am

I think I may be bisexual but the problem is, is that i also feel attracted to transgender, gender queer, ect. the problem with me being pansexual is that i dont ever wish to practice certain things that fall under pansexual, such as pedophilia, and necrophilia. im just so confused!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Austin
May, 28 2018 at 7:41 am

The purple stripe on the bisexual flag means attraction to no genders if you're curious. I hope you found this reply useful!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

kate
June, 16 2018 at 8:17 am

I used to identify as bi, but I always felt that I was attracted to people who identify as men, as well as people who identify as women, as well as people who identify as nonbinary. I think both terms communicate this adequately. I have friends who identify as bisexual, but they are attracted to men, women, and transgender people, and I think it's up to them to decide what terminology they want to use to identify. Over time I realized that the term pansexuality more closely resembles my own identity, but to me the differences are very subtle, mostly a matter of one term being a more accurate (to me) description of what it's like (for me) to exist in the world. If I wanted to identify myself to someone outside of the LGBTQ community I'd probably use the term bisexual to avoid having to explain what pansexual means to someone who has little or no context.
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.

nicole
June, 25 2018 at 5:10 pm

Transgender people aren't their own gender. Straight men and women can still be attracted to trans women and men and still be straight. Bisexuality is commonly defined now as "attraction to the same and other genders" and can still include nonbinary people, and always includes transgender people.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Bassplayer85
July, 7 2018 at 8:39 am

Children can't consent, that's rape or molestation, I don't think that applies... to pansexuality. Necrophilia, not to be a wise ass, but, they can they take their lover out on a date, meet their family and friends?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Leanne
August, 8 2018 at 3:14 pm

What? Paedophilia and necrophilia?! What is wrong with you?! Pansexuality does not cover or condone either of these things! I don't know where you're getting your info from but it's disturbing, insulting and incorrect. Pansexuality grows from a firm base of consent. If a partner can't consent a pansexual individual would not have relations with them.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lizey Raylor
October, 1 2018 at 4:59 pm

I’m still a little confused about the differences between Bisexual and Panasexual but one thing I know for sure is that panasexual are not pedophildes. I thing no you need to recheck the definition of that word, not to be rude or anything but saying stuff like that is going to make some people hate you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hayleigh
October, 31 2018 at 3:22 pm

I myself am panseuxal... I am not attracted or do I ever wish to be involved in pedophilia... to be pansexual you do not have to be involved in everything... it just means you like people of them not their SEX... or GENDER... Yes, they are different. If you want to talk more add me on Wattpad @HayHayJane

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lynn
January, 11 2019 at 6:21 pm

I was not aware that pansexual identifies pedophilia and necrophilia behavior. So, these persons dont identify age or breathing versus non as part of their community? Please do not accept my inquiry as insult. I ask as a person who has openly supported all orientations and honestly just people in general versus seeing an orientation and was not aware of this. thank you for your post

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