Bisexuality and pansexuality are both terms that people may use to describe sexual orientation. Generally, bisexuality refers to an attraction to more than one gender. People may define pansexuality as attraction regardless of gender.
However, people’s definitions of bisexuality and pansexuality might vary. They are related but distinct concepts.
Many different sexual orientations exist, and there are also many gender identities. Creating clear-cut definitions that apply to everyone can be challenging.
In this article, we outline some differences between bisexuality and pansexuality. We also discuss various sexual orientations and how people may choose to identify.
Bisexuality can mean different things, and not everyone will agree on a single definition. Generally, if someone identifies as bisexual, they feel an attraction to more than one gender.
Some people define their gender according to their biological sex. However, other people see themselves as agender or gender-fluid.
To some people, bisexuality might mean only feeling attracted to males and females. To others, it can mean feeling attracted to multiple gender identities.
Some people may find the word controversial, as it implies that there are only two genders. However, many people who identify as bisexual acknowledge that there are multiple genders.
Typically, people who identify as pansexual can feel an attraction to anyone, including individuals who do not identify as a specific gender. Pansexual people may describe their attraction as focusing on personality rather than gender.
For example, people with a pansexual orientation may feel an attraction to the personality of someone who is agender. They might equally find a female, male, or gender-fluid person attractive.
It is important to note that identifying as pansexual does not mean feeling attracted to everyone, just as a heterosexual male does not feel an attraction to every female, and vice versa.
Most people agree that bisexuality refers to feeling attracted to multiple genders, while pansexuality is attraction to all genders. There are overlaps between the two, but they are distinct.
For example, someone who identifies as bisexual may feel attracted to those who are gender-fluid, male, or nonbinary but not those who are female.
Someone who is pansexual can have the same level of attraction to people of any gender. However, they may still experience this in different ways.
For both, the type of attraction that someone experiences might vary for different genders. For example, someone may feel a romantic attraction to one gender but a sexual attraction to another.
Sexuality is a challenging concept to define. Many people still disagree on what the basic concepts of gender and sexual identity mean.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition that sexuality exists on a spectrum. This understanding is an advance on the traditional idea of sexuality as being binary.
At one end of the sexual orientation spectrum are people who feel an attraction to those of the other binary sex or gender. For example, this would include a heterosexual female who is only attracted to males.
Those who feel attracted to people of the same gender or sex are at the other end of the spectrum, while individuals who feel an attraction to multiple genders would fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
There is also a difference in the type of attraction that a person might experience. For example, sexual attraction is a desire for sexual contact, whereas romantic attraction involves the desire for a deeper connection and relationship.
There are criticisms of the spectrum approach because it might exclude certain scenarios. For example, someone who is transgender and undergoing a transition might feel as though they do not fit into the spectrum.
However, the idea of a sexual orientation spectrum is a step in the right direction. Traditional binary approaches exclude many people who do not fit into that model.
Many people will find it difficult to identify their sexual orientation or gender identity. It can be confusing for young people who may be unaware of ideas such as the spectrum.
Understanding the full range of concepts and identifying what works can sometimes take time. It might also involve a transition across different parts of the spectrum. Other people might know from an early age how they identify.
Learning about different gender identities and sexual orientations will help. The thinking in this area has changed and will continue to evolve.
A person can identify with whatever orientation they believe fits. There is not a right or wrong answer. Equally, a person does not need to label their sexuality or conform to certain ideals if they choose not to.
It is also possible for a person to identify with multiple terms and use them interchangeably to describe themselves. People can also change their sexual orientation if they feel that their capacity for attraction changes, or they learn another word that may better describe their orientation. Talking to people who have had similar experiences or transitions may help.
It is important to avoid suppressing feelings or thoughts about sexuality. Although doing this might avoid uncomfortable conversations or situations in the short term, it will likely cause problems in the long term.
The LGBTQ+ community is a welcoming and accepting place. Wider society is opening up to different sexual orientations and gender identities. However, some places are more accepting than others.
Bisexuality and pansexuality will mean different things to different people.
Bisexuality generally refers to people who feel attracted to more than one gender. Pansexuality typically refers to those who feel an attraction to people regardless of gender. The terms differ because bisexual people may not feel attracted to certain genders.
A wide range of different sexual orientations and gender identities exists. The thinking in this area has changed and will continue to evolve.