BISEXUALITY VS. PANSEXUALITY
Over the last few years, social media has been an essential tool in spreading awareness and information about bisexuality and pansexuality. This has helped hundreds of people feel more comfortable in their own identities as well as providing a sense of community. Unfortunately, it has also been used to spread misinformation, particularly about bisexuality.
Have you ever wondered what the difference was between bisexuality and pansexuality? Well, you aren’t alone!
While some sexual orientations have clear-set definitions that are universally understood, the terms bisexual and pansexual have more fluid definitions. This means that although there are general definitions, everyone will have a slightly different definition depending on their personal experience. This can be both liberating and very confusing for those of us trying to figure out which label we identify with and for people who want to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community.
So, what is bisexuality and how is it different from pansexuality?
Bisexuality is commonly defined as an attraction to two, or more, genders. It is also sometimes referred to as an attraction to your own gender and other gender(s), although this is not used as frequently. It is often used as an umbrella term for all fluid sexualities, including pansexuality, which is why some people choose to use the terms interchangeably. Fluid sexual orientations are sexual preferences that can change throughout your lifetime.
While pansexuality is similar to bisexuality there are a few differences. Pansexuality is defined as an attraction to all genders, or attraction regardless of gender. As you can see these definitions of bisexuality and pansexuality overlap slightly which might be why so many people struggle to tell the two apart or choose to use the terms interchangeably!
So, now that we know what bisexuality is, here is what bisexuality is not:
- Bisexuality is not only an attraction to men and women. While some people choose to define bisexuality in this way, this is not the original, or most common, definition of the term.
- Bisexuality is not, nor has it ever been, inherently transphobic! Some people claim that in order to be a true trans ally you must identify as pansexual. This is not true at all and statements like these are often the result of a transphobic definition for bisexuality.
- Many people assume that bisexuality doesn't exist and that your identity changes based on who you're dating. That would mean that is you are dating a woman you are a lesbian, etc. This is not true! Bisexuality is a completely valid sexual orientation; you are not half gay and half straight, you are wholly bisexual!
- Finally, many people assume that the attraction experienced by a bisexual, or pansexual person has to be sexual. This is not true at all! You can experience any type of attraction and still identify as bisexual or pansexual!
In the end it is important to understand that there isn’t one identity that is better, or more inclusive, than the other. Both of these sexualities are equally valid and can be defined in a multitude of ways that are person dependent. As always, respect people’s labels and don’t worry if your personal definition of bisexual or pansexual are slightly different - your definition is valid as long as it doesn’t invalidate someone else's identity!
By Kate Moran