Pansexual and Bisexual: What’s the Difference?

Q.I.D. is a series that focuses on the education of queer identity, and serves as a resource for those who are questioning their identity.

QID

Introduction

Pansexual, when not used as a defining label for someone, is often referenced in regards to bisexuality. Things that pansexuals (and panromantics) will often hear are, “Pansexuality is just bisexuality,” or, “You just want to have sex with everyone.” Other common phrases are:

  • “You’re just confused.” (common for queer people in general)
  • “You’re just trying to be hip and fashionable.”
  • “But you’ve only dated (insert gender here).”

Today, we’re going to get to the bottom of this. We’ll figure out what pansexuality and bisexuality is, define how the two differ, and answer some questions that bi/pan-questioning individuals might ask. I am, however, only one voice, so I will make sure to leave some others in the Further Explore section.

Definition

Pansexuality can be defined either as a sexual attraction towards all genders, or as a sexual attraction that operates regardless of gender. Bisexuality, traditionally, means being attracted to men and women. However, bisexuality has expanded recently in definition to mean sexual attraction towards two or more genders.

Differences

Now, many people would say that these are the same thing, whether because of the similarities between them or because, to quote Anti-Feminists, “There are only two genders!” -sigh- Ignoring that mess (trust me, gender will be addressed, just not now), there are still differences between pan and bi identity, and whichever you choose to identify with is up to you. However, there are reasons to identify with one over the other. If you’re curious, check out the list below.

You might choose to ID as pan if…

  • You are attracted to the same personality type, regardless of gender.
  • You could see yourself in a relationship of that nature with someone of any gender.
  • You want to emphasize your capacity to be in a relationship with non-binary and trans people.
  • You feel it fits!

You might choose to ID as bi if…

  • You are attracted to different personality types based on the gender of the person.
  • You aren’t attracted to all genders.
  • You aren’t attracted to people regardless of the person’s gender.
  • You feel like it’s easier to explain.
  • You feel it fits!

Common Questions

There are many common questions that people ask themselves if they’re questioning whether or not they’re bi. Here are a few of those, as well as a response for each of them.

But I mainly like men/women?

It doesn’t matter. If you feel like you’re attracted to two or more genders, you can ID as pan or bi. However, if it’s to the point where it’s almost always one gender, Homo/Heteroflexible may feel better for you (we’ll discuss these identities further in a later post).

What if I’m dating a man/woman?

You are still bi/pan. Your identity does not change with your relationship status. You are who you are, period.

But I’ve never had sex with people of any other genders?

You don’t need to have sex with people to prove that you are bi or pan. As we talked about in Romantic vs. Sexual Attraction, you can identify as bi or pan, but still have a low sex drive. You also might have not met the right person yet.

Conclusion

That’s a basic overview of Bisexuality and Pansexuality! If anything was confusing, or you have more questions, feel free to drop a comment, contact me, or use the resources below!

Further Explore:

Alayna Fender and Ash Hardell Discussing Bisexuality

Miley Cyrus Talks Pansexuality

Four Celebrities Talk About Being Pan

Bisexuality Resource Center

 

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