Talking About Sexuality: the Difference Between Pansexual and Bisexual

Talking About Sexuality the Difference Between Pansexual and Bisexual

Decades ago, people’s sexuality came in roughly two flavors:  heterosexual, or men who love women and women who love men; or homosexual, or men who love men or women who love women. The article throws light on pansexual versus bisexual. Read on to know more!

The first sexuality was the one society deemed “normal”, and the second, “deviant”.  This attitude resulted in much stigmatization, discrimination and mental health issues for those people who were attracted to the same sex.

A huge leap towards acceptance of different sexual identities

While there is still some lingering stigma surrounding men and women who do not fall into the heterosexual category, western society has made huge leaps towards acceptance of different sexual identities and practices in the past decade, all to everyone’s benefit.

You may have noticed that there are a lot of new labels now to define people’s sexuality.

The most well-known of these is the acronym LGBTQ, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning.  

Now another new label has appeared on the scene, that of “Pansexual.”  

Let’s examine what the difference is between someone who identifies as pansexual and someone who identifies as bisexual, as those two labels appear to cause the most confusion when talking about gender politics.

A simple definition for bisexual

A person who is attracted to genders that are like their own, as well as genders that are different from their own

A person who is attracted to genders that are like their own, as well as genders that are different from their own.  Their sexual attraction is therefore fluid, and not one-way as a heterosexual person might be.

It was David Bowie, back in 1976 in his interview with Playboy magazine, who self-described as a bisexual and put this word out into the public consciousness.  He liked having sex with both men and women, depending on his mood and the nature of the attraction he felt to his partners.

Not asking to pick one over the other

Let’s hear what Richard, 32, has to say about his own bisexuality:  “I love men for sex, but women for romance. My sexual attraction to men is about strength, and dominance, and raw crazy sex.  And my attraction to women is more about the romantic, emotional connection I have with them.

I love men for their hard, muscular bodies.  And I love women for their soft curves and open expressions of emotion.  Don’t ask me to pick one over the other; I’d be frustrated for the rest of my life.”  

When asked which gender he’d eventually marry and settle down with, Barry responds: “Ideally I’d like to form a household of three, with a sexual and emotional connection with both the man and the woman.  

But it’s not easy to find a couple open to that sort of arrangement.  So for now, I sometimes date men and sometimes date women. I haven’t yet dated a couple together.” Bisexual people tend to be attracted to cisgendered men and cisgender women.  Is that term new to you?

The cisgendered

Cis-gendered” simply means a person is the gender they were born as

“Cis-gendered” simply means a person is the gender they were born as.  

In other words, they are not transgendered or appearing as a gender that does not correspond to their birth gender.  

Think Chastity Bono, who transitioned from female to male.  He is not a cis-gendered male, as she was born a female but presents as a male.  He is a transgendered person. His mother, Cher, is a cis-gendered female, or born a female and still presents as a female.  

Most bisexual males would not be attracted to Chastity (or Chaz, as he is now known as) as he is not a cis-gendered male.

Pansexuals

Pansexuals are people who are attracted to all gender and sexual orientations

Pansexuals are people who are attracted to all gender and sexual orientations.

Their sexuality is extremely fluid and not confined to one gender or type of presentation.  Simply put, they can be attracted emotionally and physically to people of the same sex, the opposite sex, a transgendered person, cisgendered people, agender people, queer men, queer women, clearly, they can enjoy a wide range of partners.  

Indeed, the prefix “pan” comes from the Greek, meaning “all.”  Janelle Monae, the singer whose hits top the charts right now, has defined herself as pansexual, as has the singer Miley Cyrus.  

They don’t have a preference for one gender over another

Self-identifying as pansexual means that gender plays no role in that person’s sexuality and that they don’t have a preference for one gender over another, according to the American Institute of Bisexuality.

We’ve talked here about two gender options:  bisexual and pansexual. You may be astounded to know that there are, according to ABC news, at least 58 gender options:

  • Agender
  • Androgyne
  • Androgynous
  • Bigender
  • Cis
  • Cisgender
  • Cis Female
  • Cis Male
  • Cis Man
  • Cis Woman
  • Cisgender Female
  • Cisgender Male
  • Cisgender Man
  • Cisgender Woman
  • Female to Male
  • FTM
  • Gender Fluid
  • Gender Nonconforming
  • Gender Questioning
  • Gender Variant
  • Genderqueer
  • Intersex
  • Male to Female
  • MTF
  • Neither
  • Neutrois
  • Non-binary
  • Other
  • Pangender
  • Trans
  • Trans Female
  • Trans Male
  • Trans Man
  • Trans Person
  • Trans Woman
  • TransWoman
  • Transfeminine
  • Transgender
  • Transgender Female
  • Transgender Male
  • Transgender Man
  • Transgender Person
  • Transgender Woman
  • Transmasculine
  • Transsexual
  • Transsexual Female
  • Transsexual Male
  • Transsexual Man
  • Transsexual Person
  • Transsexual Woman
  • Two-Spirit

All of these labels are fairly recent additions to today’s vocabulary.  It does appear that younger people are more open to the idea that sexuality, love and gender identity is “non-binary”, or neither black nor white, but fluid and moving.  

The generation Z embraces the idea that it is perfectly natural for them to have the spiritual, emotional, physical capability of being attracted to any gender.

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