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Differences Between Bisexuality and Pansexuality

November 5, 2014 Vanessa Celis

Bisexuality and pansexuality are similar sexual orientations but have differences. Learn more about the key differences between pansexuality and bisexuality.

Many questions arise when one proclaims that they are bisexual. But what about pansexual? Pansexuality is not a familiar term within people outside of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) community. I only learned about pansexuality in a feminism class three years ago. I had never heard the term before but when I learned its definition, I immediately came to like it. While I don’t mind identifying as bisexual, I prefer the term pansexual when it comes to my identity. But how are bisexuality and pansexuality different? Aren’t they the same thing?

How Bisexuality and Pansexuality Differ

 

The dictionary states the definition of bisexual as: “sexually attracted to both men and women”. Meanwhile, the definition of pansexual is: “not limited or inhibited in sexual choice with regard to gender or activity.” While it can be easy to say that both definitions mean the same, exact thing, the key difference between bisexuality and pansexuality rests on the focus on gender identity.

Bisexuality implies that there are only two genders, that being male and female. Pansexuality, on the other hand, implies that there are more than two genders. Pansexuals have no problem dating or sleeping with a transgender person, for example. This also includes people who fall out of the gender binary and consider themselves genderqueer (people who do not identify as just man or woman).

Pansexuality and Bisexuality -- Love Isn’t Based on Gender

Bisexuality and pansexuality are similar sexual orientations but have differences. Learn more about the key differences between pansexuality and bisexuality. One thing that bisexuality and pansexuality do have in common is that the people who identify as such usually don’t base their feelings on gender. Lately, I have noticed on social networks such as Tumblr that there is an active discussion between the bisexual and pansexual communities. A lot of bisexuals have come out and stated that they don’t base their sexuality on gender identity, either. They still consider and call themselves bisexual, though.

This has created some confusion between the two labels. But I think it’s great that there is an active discussion. If anything, it shows how fluid sexuality is in many people. Instead of it being as a concrete thing, sexuality is more complex and intricate than society likes to make it. Not everyone falls into the neat labels of straight or gay, and that’s okay. That doesn’t make pansexuals and bisexuals confused about their sexuality.

Choosing to Label Your Sexuality

For a long time, I had issues labeling my sexuality. I was ashamed of being bisexual and wanted so badly to just be a lesbian because of all the biphobia I had experienced outside and within the LGBTQ community. It’s something that I regret to say, but it’s true. Now, though, I am trying to accept and love myself more.

There is nothing wrong with being bisexual or pansexual. Also, I am learning that while labels are important in self-discovery and in accepting your sexuality, it’s okay to not know. Sadly, I have noticed that many people are so hung up about labels and try to be a living, breathing replica of the exact definition. Maybe we should focus more on ourselves instead of trying to live up to a textbook definition. That way there is more room for growth and happiness in our lives.

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APA Reference
Celis, V. (2014, November 5). Differences Between Bisexuality and Pansexuality, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, March 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/thelifelgbt/2014/11/differences-between-bisexuality-and-pansexuality



Author: Vanessa Celis

Troy
November, 6 2014 at 6:46 pm

Bisexual does not imply that there is only two genders any more than homosexual implies that all gender is the same.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Vanessa Celis
November, 17 2014 at 11:03 am

Hi Troy,
Thank you for your comment. I did address that in my post. Everyone has their own different definition and that's okay, there's nothing wrong with that.
-Vanessa

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Anonymous
June, 3 2018 at 4:14 pm

YES!!!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Richard
December, 11 2018 at 1:06 pm

I have identified myself as bisexual only a couple of years ago. I actually didn't have a term for it even though I've been practicing it on and off for decades. Lately I have been attracted to a transgender but basically still called myself bisexual. I only heard the term pansexual last week. Granted, technically the bisexual term literally means 2 by the prefix bi. Does it have to mean male or female? It means 2 but shouldn't be a limiting factor. The issue I have is that we are riddling our culture with more and more terms that is making it more and more confusing. I'm a committed bisexual but I'm not limiting myself.

Jim
March, 20 2019 at 5:00 pm

YOU can id ur self ANY way u want but u were not born like that & u can never change ur dna when u were born into. U have a serious mental problem & by not addressing it early on, causes much more serious problems later in life ALWAYS

Donatello
March, 28 2019 at 10:03 am

Dear Richard, it means you can like any two gender in LGBTQ+ not just female and male.
-Donatello

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jim
March, 20 2019 at 4:51 pm

No it means that a person is NOT mentally normal & needs help. Even animals know to naturally be interested in the opposite sex!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jay
March, 25 2019 at 3:17 pm

Bi means 2

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lily
April, 5 2019 at 8:03 pm

Is there a sexuality where you love boys, girls, and non-binary, but nothing else?

April, 7 2019 at 11:35 am

Hi Lily,
That's a good question. I've heard that "multisexual" can be a good term for people who are attracted several different genders, but not necessarily all genders. Ultimately, though, how you define your sexual orientation is up to you!
Andy

Anonymous
November, 12 2014 at 3:52 pm

Thank you for addressing pansexuality. Many people do not know what it is, along with other orientations like demisexual and asexual.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Vanessa Celis
November, 17 2014 at 11:02 am

Thank you for your comment! Hopefully within time more people will learn about pansexuality and the other sexual orientations as well.
-Vanessa

Kytt
March, 24 2015 at 8:14 pm

Hello everyone reading this! I'd like to inform you of something! THIS IS NOT CORRECT!!!
Bisexuality isn't the attraction to a male or a female, it's the attraction to genders the same, or other than your own. When bisexuality as a term was coined, the population was misinformed that there was only two genders. This type of thinking would also lead people to believe that a gay man can not love a FtM Transgender (even post operation), because in this definition, you're not LABELING them as their correct gender.
A MtF transgender is a female in my eyes, as well as a FtM is a male. So that would exclude intersex, which would be silly.
The truth is that bisexuality is a strong term, it's recognized by people in, and out, of the community. It has history, and it has stigmas that we're constantly fighting.
I'm sorry to say this, but this post is incredibly rude. Pansexuals have no right to define bisexuality, as they don't identify as it. Yes, everyone has their own definition, and that is fine, but what's NOT okay is putting even MORE of a stigma on Bisexuals!!!
(*I have friends that identify as pansexuals, so please don't think I am trying to say that pansexuality isn't a thing. Many Bisexuals are tired of having the stigma that we aren't willing to date other genders.)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Vanessa Celis
March, 31 2015 at 11:13 am

Hi Kytt,
Thank you for your reply and opinion. Like I mentioned earlier, everyone has a different opinion about what bisexual/pansexual means. I was asked by the blog manager to explain the differences between pansexuality and bisexuality. I don't see my post as being rude at all toward bisexuals, especially when I used to say I was bisexual for a long time. You could be bisexual and be attracted to all genders and that is fine. Perhaps I will clarify this in my next post because it seems to be pretty controversial.
-Vanessa

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Vanessa
June, 4 2017 at 10:54 am

There are only 2 genders

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

krystle wilson
June, 12 2017 at 1:25 pm

There are only 2 sexes period regardless of physical changes. Ur either a man or woman biologically. So if u like both, u r bi.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Luis
July, 11 2017 at 11:05 am

Well, yes, there are only two sexes. However, gender is a different thing to sex in that it is how you identify and not simply what genitals you were born with. Please educate yourself before posting comments such as this one.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

1 John 2:27
July, 3 2018 at 9:18 pm

Touchy people around here. Why so snippy? Part of the reason lgbtqp...ect. get flak is because they want everyone to "accept" them while they don't "accept" others. Look at yourself.

Yashvi
February, 7 2019 at 1:37 am

Roasted!!!!!
So true and the same as I was thinking as I was going through the comments..
Lol..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

liza
September, 8 2018 at 8:18 am

gen·der
ˈjendər/
noun
1.
the state of being male or female
sex
seks/
noun
2.
either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.
Gender and sex are practically the same thing. You are either male, female, or both. So I think you need to educate yourself before posting comments.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Dennis Nardone
March, 16 2019 at 6:23 am

I wonder what the problem was with sexuality when Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed. It has all been done. There is nothing new under the sun. Only our technology has evolved but we have not. We have the same heart as those from the earliest times of human history. Of course today we think we are so much smarter than those from the earliest times of human history. Our culture opens the doors of social behavior with very few limits. Almost anything seems appropriate. We have so much freedom yet we have lost our basic identity. As a culture we have become our own gods and this is nothing different from years ago. It is the same story over and over and one day it will be over.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hayleigh
October, 31 2018 at 3:18 pm

Wrong. There are only 2 SEXES. There are multiple genders.

Kat
January, 28 2019 at 1:45 am

Excellent point differentiating between biological sex and gender identity. İt's also important to remember that intersex people do exist outside the male/female binary. XX and XY are not the only sex chromosome pairs available.

Donatello
March, 29 2019 at 9:35 am

Dear Hayleigh,
Sex and gender are the same thing
1. gen·der
/ˈjendər/
noun
either of the two SEXES (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.
2. sex
/seks/
either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.
Gender and sex are the same thing, but we use them differently!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jaimee
July, 29 2017 at 4:06 pm

Well... correct me if I’m wrong because I very well may be but bi means two so you couldn’t be attracted to “anything” and claim bisexuality. Also if what you’re saying is accurate then a gay man could love a FtM trans because at the end of the day it’s a man so if you really see trans people as their desired sex wouldn’t that still be bisexuality? Please don’t come at me if you disagree.. I’m just stating my opinion and curiosity

Aaris
September, 22 2015 at 10:02 pm

I'm sorry, but there are *straight* people who are fine with sleeping with transgender people, as well as gays, so that has nothing to do with it.

Kya
February, 18 2016 at 2:54 am

Bisexual is OK, and Pansexual is OK. I think no matter you are bisexual or pansexual, all of us are the same, don't it? Someone may refuse to be friends with us, but I don't care about! After all, we should learn to live alone, nobody will be with you all the time. But we can find many friends by some bisexual dating sites, such as http://www.datingbisexual.net, which are just like a big bisexual family.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Don't Shoot Me
July, 3 2018 at 9:22 pm

Can't resist.... A "big bisexual family" dating site..... would be incest. Any takers? JK

Aaris
April, 20 2016 at 4:59 am

The fact that the definition of bisexuality says 'bisexuals are attracted to both men and women' does not imply that there are only two genders. It refers to sexes, not genders. That's why it's called biSEXuality and not biGENDERuality.

Nat
April, 22 2016 at 2:58 pm

Trying to convince my stepdad the difference is a hard task but I'm getting there xxx

Judi
April, 27 2016 at 8:17 am

My problem is all the constant labeling. I think too many young people are trying to find something to identify themselves with, and there will be more labeling because of it. Face it, we are all people, persons, and will continue to be whoever we are. Labels are good on food, and for cloths sizes, washing instructions, but I don't think we need labels to be who we are. We are people, and we should be accepted without question, or looking for more labels.
I was a child, a person. I grew up, still a person. I have been a wife, mother, grand, and great grandmother, and I am still and always have been a person, or human being. I am proud to be who I am, and have been, but I didn't run around trying to find another name to put on it, even though sooner or later someone will. Society has already labeled me heterosexual, and maybe I am, but I never needed the world to put that label on me. Even when I see that old person in the mirror, I know that child I was, when I was born, is still in there. I am many things, even old, but I don't care to be labeled old either.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Arabella
July, 2 2018 at 10:42 am

I would really like to thank you for this comment. I am 23 and currently trying to unravel my own sexuality and the one thing that stresses me out the most is what to CALL myself when people ask about my sexually orientation. Why can’t I just be a normal person that happens to also like women? Why is there so much pressure put on the labels?

Strange World
July, 3 2018 at 9:26 pm

Maybe they are trying to be polite. Or get to know you better. Do people really pester you about it that much?

Bassplayer85
July, 7 2018 at 8:27 am

You ARE normal, don't let anyone make you feel less than normal. Your normal, vital, loved, talented, gifted, a d do much more, so just be YOU, I don't know you, but you are great! Oh, and if some people don't like it, tell them to be gone, before someone drops a house on them too, ( from the Wizard of Oz )

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Maddog
August, 6 2018 at 12:58 pm

Thank you so much for this comment. You are so wise. We should all be free to live our lives free of the labels.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lynn
January, 11 2019 at 6:15 pm

I have been reading g this thread for a while tonight. I have a daughter who had come out as bisexual. And, as I thought when she spoke and now as I read your post: she came out as a "label" This poor girl, just trying to explain this part of herself as any other must use an excepted and defined term to simply to me, say, hey mom, Im...me and... that's all I see it as. Labels make some people feel better because whatever it is they are living with finds unity. Labels for others are suffocating and unfamiliar because they are limiting. They include XYZ, exclude ABC and then what? Labels are simply that. If we think of them in most familiar ways- papers or stickers on shit that ultimately we look at, RIP off and modify to our own need, soooo, uh yeah people. Labels are there for people who have no sense of understanding without written outline. Once they have that outline, they go and change add and interpret as they do. Hello! Yea, that's life so, people are just people who like love or lost after other people. The end.
Maybe I'm unity hopeful, or delusional or...whatever label someone wants to give me, but that's ok. Even the judgemental can find me out there tolerating your ignorance and willing to listen and help others as well as myself understand as much as possible

Mads
May, 5 2016 at 7:10 am

I think I may be bisexual but the problem is, is that i also feel attracted to transgender, gender queer, ect. the problem with me being pansexual is that i dont ever wish to practice certain things that fall under pansexual, such as pedophilia, and necrophilia. im just so confused!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Austin
May, 28 2018 at 7:41 am

The purple stripe on the bisexual flag means attraction to no genders if you're curious. I hope you found this reply useful!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

kate
June, 16 2018 at 8:17 am

I used to identify as bi, but I always felt that I was attracted to people who identify as men, as well as people who identify as women, as well as people who identify as nonbinary. I think both terms communicate this adequately. I have friends who identify as bisexual, but they are attracted to men, women, and transgender people, and I think it's up to them to decide what terminology they want to use to identify. Over time I realized that the term pansexuality more closely resembles my own identity, but to me the differences are very subtle, mostly a matter of one term being a more accurate (to me) description of what it's like (for me) to exist in the world. If I wanted to identify myself to someone outside of the LGBTQ community I'd probably use the term bisexual to avoid having to explain what pansexual means to someone who has little or no context.
In any case, pansexual does not mean a person is a pedophile or necrophiliac. It doesn't include any paraphilia (things like pedophilia, necrophilia, ibestiality, etc.). Pansexuality is just another way to talk about consensual adult sexual behaviors. All in this case means all gender identities, not ALL sexual attractions.

nicole
June, 25 2018 at 5:10 pm

Transgender people aren't their own gender. Straight men and women can still be attracted to trans women and men and still be straight. Bisexuality is commonly defined now as "attraction to the same and other genders" and can still include nonbinary people, and always includes transgender people.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Bassplayer85
July, 7 2018 at 8:39 am

Children can't consent, that's rape or molestation, I don't think that applies... to pansexuality. Necrophilia, not to be a wise ass, but, they can they take their lover out on a date, meet their family and friends?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Leanne
August, 8 2018 at 3:14 pm

What? Paedophilia and necrophilia?! What is wrong with you?! Pansexuality does not cover or condone either of these things! I don't know where you're getting your info from but it's disturbing, insulting and incorrect. Pansexuality grows from a firm base of consent. If a partner can't consent a pansexual individual would not have relations with them.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lizey Raylor
October, 1 2018 at 4:59 pm

I’m still a little confused about the differences between Bisexual and Panasexual but one thing I know for sure is that panasexual are not pedophildes. I thing no you need to recheck the definition of that word, not to be rude or anything but saying stuff like that is going to make some people hate you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hayleigh
October, 31 2018 at 3:22 pm

I myself am panseuxal... I am not attracted or do I ever wish to be involved in pedophilia... to be pansexual you do not have to be involved in everything... it just means you like people of them not their SEX... or GENDER... Yes, they are different. If you want to talk more add me on Wattpad @HayHayJane

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lynn
January, 11 2019 at 6:21 pm

I was not aware that pansexual identifies pedophilia and necrophilia behavior. So, these persons dont identify age or breathing versus non as part of their community? Please do not accept my inquiry as insult. I ask as a person who has openly supported all orientations and honestly just people in general versus seeing an orientation and was not aware of this. thank you for your post

Anon
May, 5 2016 at 2:22 pm

But it doesn't necessarily make sense I mean there really only is two genders even if ur trans ur merely claiming to be of the opposite gender u were assigned at birth and either gender still fits into the binary ergo still only upholding the existence of only two genders so I don't really see any difference between bi and pan. Bi usually implies a lack of bias towards either gender which trans still fall under I've never seen trans as their own gender merely humans ascribing to the gender opposite of that assigned at birth.

Ka'iulani
June, 22 2016 at 8:58 pm

I always said I was Bi until I had a crush on a transgender boy. After that point, my friends began saying I associate more with pan than bi. However, I still consider myself as bi because whether they're transgender or not, they still associate with one gender or the other. So I was just wanting an opinion on still considering myself as bi. Alike what you said, I hate labels. But at Pride this past weekend because of my friends saying I'm more pan that bi, I was pressured into buying a pan colored flag. I now regret it because I wanted the bi colors. I know it's a stupid thing to be commenting about and I shouldn't worry about what others think, but is it term-wise wrong to call myself bi instead of pan?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

kate
June, 16 2018 at 8:25 am

I know your comment (which is not stupid) is old, and I hope you've come to your own conclusion by now, but just in case: don't let your friends label you. If you don't like labels, it's ok to not use them. Just be whoever you are and don't worry about all that stuff or get fixated on it. Take it from me, I'm an old-ish queer and it's not worth it to get hung up on all that stuff. I very rarely even discuss my sexuality with anyone because who cares unless we are going to be sexual partners? Most of the time, things just happen organically and there's no reason to talk about it at all. Bisexual people can be attracted to transgender people. When I identified as bi, I was! The only reason I decided to change terms is that I discovered I'm attracted to genderfluid and genderqueer people as well (and am genderfluid myself). No matter which terminology you use to describe yourself, it's not going to be wrong and it might change over time. Either way, as long as you feel comfortable with who you are, you're doing great.

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