Everything You Need To Know About Pansexuality

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What is pansexuality?

Pansexuality is defined as sexual attraction toward people of any sex or gender identity.  Someone who is pansexual may find that they’re attracted to cis-gender women and cis-gender men attractive, as well as transgender men and women, folks who are gender queer, and even people who don’t even identify as either men or women. Essentially, neither sex nor gender are a factor when it comes to who pansexuals are attracted to.

Er, I need a recap: What’s the difference between sex and gender? What does cis-gender mean?

Think of it this way: Sex is determined by what’s between our legs, gender is determined by roles that society places on us (usually based on our sex). For example, anyone who is born with a vagina isn’t inherently attracted to the color pink and Disney Princesses, and anyone born with a penis isn’t inherently attracted to the color blue and monster trucks; that’s gender at work! Of course, gender identity gets a lot more complicated than this, but that’s the quick and dirty on why some people either identify with the gender that society corresponds with their sex (known as cis-gender) and some people don’t; people who don’t can be anything from transgender, to gender queer, to agender (not identifying with a gender at all).

You’re confusing me.

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I’m sorry. Look at it this way: Sex is biological, assigned at birth and is based on the sexual organs hanging out in between your legs. Gender is largely influenced by society and is something that we practice or express in some kind of way.

Wait, so…what’s the difference between pansexuality and bisexuality?

Okay, here’s where things get a little complicated. A traditional, less nuanced definition of bisexuality is attraction to two sexes or genders; hence the prefix bi–it means two. Pansexuality isn’t interested in such a rigid approach to sex/gender and differs itself by defining itself as sexual attraction to people regardless of their sex/gender identity; hence the prefix pan–which means all.

Okay, then bisexuality upholds stupid, oppressive sex/gender constructs? Uh, that’s not cool.

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Whoa, hang on there. That’s why I emphasized that that is the more traditional approach to defining bisexuality. Many bisexual people also disregard sex and gender identity when it comes to attraction as well!

So why does the term pansexuality exist in the first place?

Think of it this way: we’re living in an age in which we’re acknowledging how weird and funky gender identity can be. It’s not all black and white! When pansexuality became a popularized term in the LGBTQ community, this wasn’t necessarily the case, which explains the pansexual community’s desire for a term that reflected their approach to sexual attraction and sex/gender identity.

Pansexuality isn’t necessarily more inclusive than bisexuality. In fact, the way many people explain their bisexual identity and pansexual identity are exactly the same. So honestly, the difference comes down to people’s individual definitions and the community they feel more at ease within.

I identify as pansexual, but I’d hate explaining its meaning all the time, so I’m just going to tell people that I’m bi.

The truth is that bisexuality is a much more visible term than pansexual. The average person knows what it is, unlike pansexuality. But don’t be too apprehensive about explaining your pansexual identity. It might be a bit of a mouthful, but it’s great to teach people new things, right? That’s the point of this post, after all. The more aware people are of pansexuality, the less explaining you’ll have to endure in the future. Sounds nice, right?

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Are you pansexual? Do you believer there is a fundamental difference between pansexuality and bisexuality? Tell us in the comments!

 

Everything You Need To Know About Asexuality 

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  • I am pansexual and will base you on your complete personality (maybe looks too in SOME situations) but never your gender identity or sexuality. yes there is a difference between bisexuality and pansexuality, for example i would happily have a relationship with a transgender male, whereas a bisexual would only date a cisgender male. It is technically a ‘yeah i’ll go out with anyone’ case, which people can find confusing and weird at times because they assume you are desperate or a whore, which by all means IS NOT TRUE. do not listen to these people, they don’t understand it.

  • Xdxd

    Pansexuall are often described to me as people who are panromantic and feel attraction to all genders, but “not feeling any sexual desire”. Uh, no. I’m most definetly pansexual but I still feel the desire for sex. Can someone explain that to me?

  • Srockster

    I just realized I was pansexual…. my boyfriend knows and he supports me and I love him… we were trying to figure it out and he’s like “if I switched between boy and girl would you still love me?” and i was like “As long as you weren’t a complete bitch as a girl then of course.” and he’s just like “yup you’re pan. now you can make a show called pots and pans.” it’s great, i’m just scared to tell my friends and family… my friends are usually pretty accepting, it’s just my family i’m scared to tell…

  • Ann

    I identify as pansexual, and I am certainly not bisexual. I’m still young, and it’s often hard to explain what the term pansexual means. I had one friend ask me what the difference between our mutual friend (who is bisexual) and I is. I simply replied that our friend is attracted to males and females, although she is not limited to that, while I am attracted, or have the potential to be attracted, to anyone, regardless of their gender or sex. Thanks for the article!

  • Lovegirl84

    I’m pansexual I don’t care what is between your legs are what gender you are I will like you for your personality not what sex or gender you are or your sexuality.

  • baybay

    great article! im a panromantic asexual and its so confusing to explain to people what it means

  • Tatiana

    I have what is probably a dumb question, but… what is “cis-gender?” I’ve never heard the term before.

    • joannacamilley

      It means the sex you were born with matches your gender identity. It is like if you were born with a vagina and identify as a female. It’s the opposite of trans-gender, when your sex and gender don’t match.

    • baybay

      it means you identify as your biological sex (the one you were assigned at birth)

    • Jasmine

      It means that a Person keeps their gender assigned at birth, such as if you are born a girl and you stay a girl you are cisgender.

  • emma

    thank you so much for this article!

  • Paley Lewis

    I identify as both pansexual and bisexual. Personal define bisexual as attraction to same and different genders, and pansexual as regardless of gender. I like the movement of pan to go past genders, as well as feeling a deep connection to the bisexual movement historically.
    Glad to see you guys having great articles about less known parts of the Queer movement!

    (p.s. thanks for clarifying that bi=2 isn’t really used anymore, but it might have been better not to have brought it up at all then just have a quick half of a sentence clarifier about what it really means)