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