10 panphobic myths

so there are these people running around going, “what the fuck is pansexuality?” and there are some other people running around going “pansexuality is (insert panphobic slur)”.  there are also some very calm people going, “well, i’m pan and i’d be glad to clear that up for ya”— but the people running around don’t always pay attention to the calm people.  to make stuff even more shitty, we also have a few of pansexuals who are extremely transphobic and biphobic (every crowd has some asshats, k?).

so this post is directed at the bigots who spread panphobic myths around without accepting input from NON-TRANSPHOBIC/NON-BIPHOBIC pansexuals.  so if you’re not a bigot and you’re reading this going, “why are they mad at ME?!”— i’m not mad at you.  i’m only mad at bigots— and they know who they are.

i also invite all you peoples to share your ideas on this topic and to CERTAINLY call me out if you feel that this article is in any way misleading or just damn wrong.  i love reading different opinions and discussing them!  yes!  tell me why i’m wrong and i’ll fix my shit, k?

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1.  pansexuals are a bunch of “speshul” snowflakes.  they made up pansexuality to feel unique and queer.

i’m not a special snowflake.  are you?  cuz i just want to be seen for what i am by people who don’t give a fuck about my sexual orientation.  seriously.  i want society to acknowledge that i exist— and that’s pretty much it.  a little less erasure would be orgasmic.

when the people around me think i’m a hetero cis woman– i feel like a weirdo.  seriously.  i feel special in a bad way.  but when i’m out and open about my sexuality and my gender, i feel like i’m just another human being.

plus, special snowflakes don’t discriminate; they come in all sizes, colors, sexualities, genders, religions, geographies.  if intelligent life exists in, say, the next galaxy over, i’ll bet cash that special snowflakes are part of that society.  so don’t point at pansexuals and say that we ARE the special snowflakes, ok?  cuz that’s not cool.

2.  pansexuality is only a fad; get over it.

no.  i have no idea what the media is up to these days and i have no idea what the trends are— and i don’t really give a fuck.  pansexuality may be considered a popular party trick these days,  but that doesn’t mean pansexuality is ONLY a fad.

pansexuality is a valid sexual orientation.  pansexuality resonates with some people and the concept of pansexuality helps us to understand our own sexuality.

plus, any fad that involves having a sexual orientation which is widely considered invalid is kinda a shitty fad.  fads are supposed to be fun and hip, peoples.  fads are not supposed to include erasure.

 3.  there are only 2 genders/sexes; pansexuality can’t exist.  you’re attracted to one, the other, neither or both.

there are more than 2 sexes; try googling “intersex” and see what comes up.  do some research before puking up some ignorant opinion.

as for there not being more than 2 genders?  i’m still here.  i’m a non-binary trans* person and telling me that i’m not real won’t make me fall down dead.  i’m not tinkerbell.

my gender is non-binary.  my gender has always been non-binary.  that means that my gender is neither male nor female.  if you’re confused, feel free to ask me some questions.  but don’t run around erasing people because you’re confused, k?

 4.  unless you’re literally having sex with at least one person of each of the 2 trillion possible genders at the same time— you’re not pansexual.

right.  so when brenda (heterosexual woman) marries jim (heterosexual man), brenda becomes jimsexual and jim becomes brendasexual— because they will never again watch porn or check out the eye candy jogging on the waterfront.  right?

and when brenda and jim get divorced and are single for awhile, they become asexual, right?

no.  their heterosexuality will still be considered valid and they will probably continue to experience attraction to other people.  heterosexuals are considered heterosexual whether or not they’re currently fucking someone of the gender they’re attracted to— so why are pansexuals expected to simultaneously fuck EVERYBODY in order to “validate” our pansexuality?

 5.  “pan” means “ALL” in greek, so pansexuals are attracted to EVERYTHING— like dogs, corpses, kids, toasters, bathtubs, people they hate, goats etc.

you’re being silly and YOU KNOW IT.  silly is rad; i’m often veryvery silly.  but being silly while pretending to be serious in order to discredit someone’s sexual orientation isn’t actually silly— it’s assclown-ery.

you know perfectly well that “pansexual” isn’t an umbrella-term for “necrophile-pedophile-zoophile-etceteraphile”.  you know perfectly well that we’re talking about being attracted to live human adults.  further more, please don’t confuse paraphilia with sexual orientation.  google them; they’re different.

pansexuals aren’t automatically attracted to ALL human adults.  would you expect, say, a homosexual woman to automatically be attracted to ALL women?  i bet you wouldn’t.  i bet you’d expect her to have a “type” or to want a lover with an attractive personality— whatever that meant to her.

 6.  pansexuals are attracted to women, men— and trans* people!  cuz pansexuals think trans* people can’t have binary gender!

lotsa people keep saying shit like this— including some self-identified pansexuals.  look, don’t judge all of us based on a few assholes who don’t know that trans* women are women and that trans* men are men.  there’re a few assholes in every crowd.

tons of pansexuals ARE aware that trans* people can have binary gender; we know that someone who is attracted to, say, men (trans* and cis) doesn’t need a special label to indicate that they’re attracted to trans* men, too.  me, when someone says they’re attracted to men, i assume they mean MEN.

pansexuality is not transphobic by definition, ok?  and to all the pansexuals who think they’re pan because they experience attraction to binary trans* people; you might wanna rethink that.

 7.  bisexuality and pansexuality are totally different; bisexuals are only attracted to people of two genders, while pansexuals are attracted to people of all genders.

this is only one over-simplified piece of a vast and fluctuating truth.  i use the word “fluctuating” because different people often apply very different definitions to the same words.

in my experience, “bisexual” can refer to people who are attracted to people of two specific genders, people who are attracted to people of more than one gender, people who are attracted to people of genders both similar and different to their own, people who are attracted to people regardless of their gender.

and in my experience, “pansexual” can refer to people who are attracted to people regardless of gender, people who are attracted specifically to people of all genders, people who are attracted to people of more than one gender.

please don’t consider this short list of definitions to be, well, definitive; it’s a complicated topic and there are no rigid definitions.  actually, i’d love it if you’d tell me what these words mean to YOU.  that’d be rad.

bisexuality and pansexuality may, in some instances, appear totally different.  it is important to remember, however, that bisexuality and pansexuality do overlap.  this doesn’t mean that they aren’t both totally valid and distinct sexual orientations— they are.  just don’t tell some bi person that they have to be pan cuz they experience attraction to non-binary trans* people, for example.  ok?  nobody HAS to be anything.

 8.  bisexuality and pansexuality are the same thing; one of them must be an invalid sexual orientation.

no.  just, no.  bisexuality and pansexuality overlap, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.

if they overlap and often appear identical how do we categorize other people’s sexual orientations?  we don’t.  we ask people what their sexual orientation is (if we feel that such a concern is appropriate) and then we take their word for it.

people claim bi identities or pan identities for various reasons and they don’t have to explain their logic to anyone.  in fact, there doesn’t have to be logic involved; feelings are enough.  sexual orientation is very personal and it doesn’t have to make sense to other people.

yes, i’m aware that many pansexuals could call themselves bi (or vice versa) and get away with it because there’s so much overlap between bisexuality and pansexuality.  however, if “bisexual” feels wrong to someone and “pansexual” feels right (or vice versa), nobody fuckingNOBODY has the right to argue with them.  everybody has the right to decide on their own terminology (barring problematic/erasive shit).

that means that if someone claims a sexual identity, that sexual identity is valid.  we know it’s real because someone is living it.  this is about basic respect for other people and for their experiences.

9.  pansexuals and bisexuals hate each other.

i love bisexuals.  not all of them automatically because they’re bi, but some of them over time because they’re cool people.

some pansexuals are biphobic, some bisexuals are panphobic— and that bites.  i find that biphobia and holier-than-thou attitudes are problems in the online pansexual community, but we’re working on it and we’re going to keep working on it.  and like i said before, there are a few assholes in every crowd.  we’re just a bunch of people and we shouldn’t be judging ANYBODY based on fucking stereotypes.

furthermore, pansexuality and bisexuality should not be considered dependent on one another.  saying shit like, “bisexuality is _________, therefore pansexuality must be _________” is rife with erasure and phobia.  so, no.  don’t pull that shit.

10.  stop with all the labels!  too many labels!  just pick an existing label and stop splitting hairs!

that’d be great if we felt comfortable with one of the existing labels— but we don’t.  if we were comfortable with one of the existing labels, those of us not suffering from special snowflake syndrome would just pick one of the existing labels.

for example, i’m uncomfortable with calling myself bi.  i’m not biphobic; i used to identify as bi and i don’t believe the bullshit about all bisexuals being binarist cads.  that said, i don’t feel very bisexual, even though lotsa bisexuals also express attraction to people regardless of gender.  personally, i like how the word “pansexuality” includes attraction nonbinary folks right there in the first syllable for all to ogle.  but that’s just me.

so, no, we won’t pick an existing label and stop splitting hairs.  it doesn’t feel like a hair to us— it feels like a fucking elephant.

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so, yeah.  tell me what you think about this, folks.  it’s a big and twisted topic and i know there are tons of differing opinions on it— and i wanna know yours!

i especially want to know what bisexuals think of my inclusion of them in this post.  did i get anything right?  if you convince me i’m wrong, i’ll edit the post.

read the related brain-workings of bidyke: some differences and similarities between bisexuality and pansexuality and why i identify as bisexual and not pansexual.  they are pretty genius and you shouldn’t just take my word on bisexuality (i’m not bi).

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update!  here are some responses from tumblr peoples (yay!):

“It doesn’t even occur to me to factor in gender as a deciding factor on whom I have romantic inclinations. Either there is a romantic connection between myself and another individual, or there is not. Simple as that.”  (Habitual Insanity)

“I was always frustrated having to identify as bisexual because it was a term that I just didn’t feel I fit perfectly.  Not because I disliked bisexuality, but because it just didn’t cover my identity correctly.

“Over time I got tired of having to give long winded explanations, about how I like people regardless of what they identified as, when people asked me about my sexuality, and so I started to allow people to call me bi.  Eventually I even started referring to myself as bi.

“Then one day I stumbled across the term pansexual.  For me, it was an epiphany.  An absolutely monumental moment in my life that I will never forget.  I had found a name for how I felt.  I was stunned and thrilled that I finally had a word to describe how I fall for people regardless of descriptors, and that how they identify doesn’t alter my affection for them.

“I’m proud to be pansexual.  I’m glad that I have a word to relate to my identity.  I hope everyone can find something to relate to, regardless of what that is, and not feel excluded, ignored, dismissed, or belittled <3”  (xombiekitty)

25 responses to “10 panphobic myths

  1. I consider myself pansexual even though I have a tendency towards women because of experience, and an aversion to men because of fear (mostly because of sexist mentalities in our culture). I am attracted to trans people because I understand them being one, and gender rebels and all people of other than the gender stereotypical/biological sex status quo. Honestly, cisgendered people are freaking boring to me now. The problem often with labels is that they can be divisive, and create anomaly where there is none. Separating can lead to disconnected thinking, which can distort judgement because you can become unable to discern factors in a non-partisan way. Ultimately separation causes discrimination, as human nature causes us to consign ourselves to allegiance to our peer groups (or those most similar to us).

    I’d argue that most people with prejudices are blindly following the mentalities of their peer group, and those with which their experiences and personality overlap the most. I agree with you though. People unfortunately blur our sexual orientations together with our sexual behavior, which can often differ sometimes significantly if you don’t cope with it properly. A person can have any sexual orientation, yet chose if, and how they will or won’t comply with it (with consequences, of coarse). That is why sexual orientation is confined to our microcosmic experience, while sexual behavior is the only observable evidence of said orientations beyond our word with current diagnostic capabilities. The disconnect occurs because of the erasure you talk about, and because of the human need to define and categorize things into neat phylum in concrete thinking. Fluid definitions make people with concrete ways of thinking very uneasy, as it disturbs the order of their neatly organized universe.

    I can’t say for sure whether people are born that way or not, but if they had been aware of our realities when their understanding was more malleable, or when such windows arise then that would become part of their concrete reality thereafter. They may not understand more fluid concepts personally, but they won’t need to as their skill and focus won’t be wasted trying to challenge that which is already accepted and proven. However, being allowed to live our lives only learning about this reality when we are “old enough to hear it” acts to hamper our ability to relearn that which contradicts our original concepts of the world around us. Ultimately, that which is either too rigid, or too flexible is destroyed in the wake of nature. Ideology is no exception. Water may be fluid but it can move mountains, and is consistent it’s variability.

    (Note: I have heard other panphobic myths which are also bunk too. Like “All pansexuals are polyamorous” or that “Pansexual = Polyamorous” sometimes replaced with other nasty words people use for “Polyamory”, in heteronormative monogamous groups only, of course. Polyamory is also used as a defense of prejudice against GLBT folks as well, though this conjunction is a false dichotomy {straight = monogamous / queer = polyamorous}. Personally, I’m not against polyamory, it’s just not my cup of tea. But it is an excellent example of pressures and biasing that contribute to coercive conformity in society. This is also the reason for the association of paraphilia (zooaphilia, necrophilia, pedophilia, et cetera philia) with pansexuality, falsely associating other unrelated, socially deplorable behaviors to deter people from identifying as or behaving as a pansexual. Additionally, it dehumanizes said group to facilitate further discrimination via the desensitization of people to harmful behaviors against pansexuals.)

  2. yes. i totally agree that the difference between sexual behavior and sexual orientation is important. really, the whole problem is that people conflate these two related concepts. for example, many people probably think that my partner and i are a heterosexual, cisgender couple. however, only one of us is cis and neither of us is heterosexual. nobody asks– they simply assume.

    people would do less assuming if their early education were more inclusive– so true. i think most kids are raised not to ask too many questions and to be closed-minded. i think a lot of parents deliberately instill their own insecurities and prejudices in their kids.

    polyamory = pansexuality. yep. i get that a shit-ton. pansexuals = lying cheaters is another one i forgot. oops…

    thanks for commenting! again, sorry it took me so long to get back to you; exams are munching my brain-fish. ack!

  3. Once again, totally okay. I have lots of free time, and also lots of patience. I figured you were busy, and wish you well on your tests. I do wonder though sometimes, whether I can consider myself pansexual though. I am definitely attracted to people for their unique qualities, beyond just being bisexual. But I have that bias towards certain genders and gender expressions, as such I am much less attracted to typical cisgender males, more attracted to androgynes, transgenders, genderqueers, and women (more specifically atypical women, or atypical gender expressions in women – either trans or cis).

    Pansexual appears, at least to me to be far more dynamic than other sexual orientations by definition. But I do care more about whether I am attracted to someone or not than their genders, and I can potentially be attracted to anyone of any gender status though my preferences may shift from time to time.

  4. Love this entry – agree, agree, agree dammit! I also struggled with the bi thing; it just never felt quite right. I’ve been doing the Goldilocks routine for a while now, and finally found pansexual genderqueer. It fits like the right pair of jeans – not so snug as to be confining, but hugging in all the right ways. Until the world truly gets beyond categorizing everything and everybody, picking something that says what you want to say works. The work for us now is educating people on what it means and doesn’t mean, and this blog is a great example of that – thanks!

  5. thanks for the feedback! i blush.

    seriously though, education is the way to go. how else are these ideas going to get around?

  6. hi mx. punk

    i really loved this post. i have to admit that until today when i was doing sexuality research on wikipedia that i had never heard of pansexuality. for a long time i have hesitantly identified as bi-sexual, but as you said, felt slightly uncomfy with it… not uncomfy enough to throw it away… but just that i felt that it missed something. then today reading about pansexuality has opened my eyes.

    yes, i do see huge overlap between bisexuality and pansexuality. but then again i don’t know what the bi community thinks because i’m not part of any community and all my attempts to explain my sexuality have led to disaster (mostly gays insisting i was in denial about being gay). so anyways, from my perspective, the perspective of someone who closely fits to bisexuality, i would say that pansexuality describes me better. it’s as though bisexuality in terms of semantics had always had a glass ceiling, and with the recognition of pansexuality that glass ceiling is taken away.

    all this stuff is hard to handle. i admire your openness and confidence about who you are. i believe we are all speshul and we all have hearts that beat and souls which can be loved.

    your post is a good challenge on my next foray into self discovery…. the gender issue. doctors told me i was gender dysphoric which of course fits the medical binary view. being placed as either male or female didn’t seem right either… and maybe someday on wikipedia I’ll find a word for what i am….

    and yet, i hate myself for needing a word. even though i do just to explain it to myself, not the rest of the world. i need to love myself and accept myself and that hasn’t been easy for me.

    it’s people like you who are the true inspiration!

  7. thanks for the sweet words! feedback means a lot to me; this is all about reaching people and being reached by people.

    gender and sexuality are complicated; they can be fluid/dynamic and the language surrounding them isn’t really set. we all experience our gender and sexuality in our own way, so discussion can be difficult; this shit is tough, man. so here are some awesome online resources: neutrois nonsense, radical bi, and practical androgyny. plus, feel free to post here or message me anytime.

    i understand your need for labels; i go around calling myself a “pansexual non-binary trans person”. labels help us communicate with ourselves as well as with others. labels are an intrinsic part of language and they can help us find/build communities that we can be part of. in my experience, the people who go around saying they don’t need labels don’t actually forgo labels; they still identify as women, men, non-binaries, humans, mothers, cousins, friends, etc. i don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding labels that fit you; as long as you don’t label other people, ‘s’all good!

    “we all have hearts that beat and souls which can be loved.” yes.

  8. Well said! Thank you for this post.

  9. i still don’t get what the hek ur on about…are u or r u not turned on by toasters?

  10. lolz. toasters have hot tits and exciting personalities. so, yeah, i’m totally turned on by toasters.

  11. also are u a boy or a girl? say what first comes to mind

  12. neither. and are you a goat or a fork?

  13. Hello!
    While I only started defining myself as pan recently, I thought I’d chime in. Pansexuality, to me, describes an attraction to a person’s personality, before any other aspect even registers. Gender, looks, etc. all come second to a person’s personality.

  14. “Pansexuality, to me, describes an attraction to a person’s personality, before any other aspect even registers. Gender, looks, etc. all come second to a person’s personality.”

    i love that pansexuality means so many different things to different people! thanks for sharing, t. :)

  15. Hey, there. I had a thought, and I was curious as to your input.

    Since I transitioned I have spent a lot of time processing my feelings regarding attraction. I feel very much more “lesbian” than “pansexual”, but my orientation is broader. I am very much overtly and intensely attracted to women. But my problem in-lies in the fact that I haven’t experienced romantic attraction yet in a pansexual way first hand.

    Sure, I have had crushes that come from my pansexuality, but never experienced a relationship to validate those feelings. So I identify as more with lesbian than pansexual. I know other people who identify as lesbian but do not confine themselves to “Women only”, or “women and transmen only”. I guess maybe I am falling victim to the semantics of definitions.

    I don’t know if I am only attracted to women, I could just be pan-curious at this point. I dated a man, but I wasn’t very sexually attracted to him at all. I’ll also concede three factors: A. I am not done with my bodily transition, B. I think that “Lesbian” can be limiting and, C. I can be fairly asexual. I can see the beauty in any gender or status.

    I have never experienced sexual attraction outside of women to have enough evidence to settle whether I am lesbian or pansexual. Perhaps far more people are “pansexual” but isolate themselves to the “lesbian” label unnecessarily, or perhaps “lesbian” doesn’t have to be a prohibitive label. I don’t feel my attraction is mono-gender, but I don’t have any self proof.

    One thing I do know is that I have physically transformed, and perhaps the change that has come with it has brought the questions as well. I recognize both sexual orientations as valid, but just don’t know where I fit with confidence, but I’ll sort it out I am sure. Meaning, I intend on figuring out just who I am attracted to, and what factors attract me.

    Perhaps this is something all people deal with after they come out and become affirmed in the person they once repressed, who knows.

  16. sexual orientation is a tough one, sometimes. to paraphrase one of your earlier comments; sexual behavior, sexual orientation, and sexual identity are often quite different from one another. as such, i think you can go ahead and identify as a lesbian if it feels right to you– even if you experience attractions that don’t technically “fit” the lesbian label. whatever you discover about yourself, it’s important to go with the label that feels best to you. you aren’t obligated to explain/justify your sexual identity to ANYONE, cat. and that’s a little wisdom nugget gleaned from the lovely reneta. yay!

    “I have had crushes that come from my pansexuality, but never experienced a relationship to validate those feelings.”

    i don’t think they actually need to be validated. for example, lotsa cats know their sexual orientation long before they become sexually active. i think feelings ARE enough to base your sexual identity on and i think proof is unnecessary. so if you feel pansexual– go ahead and id as pansexual, cat! or lesbian. or demisexual. or skoliosexual. or polysexual. or whatevs!

    the beauty of pansexuality is that people can experience it in totally different ways. it doesn’t have to be about romance, either– technically, that’s panromance as opposed to pasexuality, 2 often-conflated concepts. personally, i experience attraction (physical and romantic) regardless of gender. i also experience attraction to specific genders (genders can be really hot, ya know). also, if i find somebody’s personality sexy enough, i’ll end up being sexually attracted to them. which is pretty fun, actually. for example, i’m not sexually attracted to men (at all) and i wasn’t sexually attracted to my partner when we first met. however, i soon developed a massive brain/soul crush on him and became sexually attracted to him as a result. yay! and now i can’t remember what it was like to not want him physically. that’s a big part of my pansexuality. but pansexuality can mean something totally different to you– you’re the boss of your own labels. huzzah!

    you have lots of other options, too. skoliosexuality, polysexuality, demisexuality, queer, etc.

    “Perhaps this is something all people deal with after they come out and become affirmed in the person they once repressed, who knows.”

    i think this is a fairly common experience. here’s a link that discusses sexual orientation during/after transition: http://www.bilerico.com/2012/01/shifting_sexuality_during_gender_transition_your_t.php check out the comments! i think this might be something that will settle a bit as time goes on. or maybe you’ll invent your own lovely word– who knows?

    thanks for the chat, cat. i miss rocking each other’s think-tanks all the time– school is almost over (for now). yay! have fun on your marvelous journey through rainbow-space! yay!

  17. I’ll probably call you in to upgrade my warp drive and train me some space ninjas sometime!

    And thank you very much for your input, and I find it enlightening and awesome to get your opinion even some of my own inputs and opinions back reminding me of my own concepts. I wasn’t familiar with those terms, and you just totally blew my mind when I looked them up… I am most certainly very, very demisexual now. It totally fits, because I really feel attraction but not sexually until I get close to them. While I relate to skoliosexuality very much so, I am still attracted to binary peoples as well… That is so friggin’ awesome.

    I do feel a degree of sexual fluidity, and you know, honestly I feel queer woman is an apt description. But those concepts are very much me. And you so totally upgraded my queer dictionary in a way that is very helpful to me. These thoughts are certainly boiling about and are liable to become a blog at some point very soon. Ironically, but hardly coincidental, most of the bodily changes, emotional alterations, and libido shifts I have experienced since transition have been over the past 6 months.

    I guess it’s of no help that this is the time when my hormones peak in the month. I am also experiencing my own gender fluidity too, and in a way I didn’t before. Some days I feel more feminine and some more masculine. When I first found your blog I didn’t really understand fluidity from lack of personal experience. I am experiencing that fluidity in a profound way for the first time.

    When I get around to blogging it I’ll be writing about just that. Thank you so much again, and thanks for taking the time to “Uber ROXXOR (better than rocking) My Thinktank”.

    **Prances away skipping with a jovial smile on her face with a trailing tail of glowing rainbow sparkles behind her”

  18. yay! that makes me happy! huzzah for the think-tank roxxor-ing!

    i think we need to keep reminding each other to embrace our whole selves. i think embracing fluidity sometimes means that we can’t find words to describe ourselves all the time. as long as we love ourselves, though, labels aren’t that important.

    so, basically, yay!

  19. Pingback: pansexuality test! | rainbowgenderpunk

  20. Pingback: stuff pansexuals need to know | rainbowgenderpunk

  21. “would you expect, say, a homosexual woman to automatically be attracted to ALL women?”

    I’ve heard of people who would.

  22. I’m gonna (politely) disagree with you on point number eight. Pansexuality and bisexuality overlap to such a large degree that I can’t think of bisexuals and pansexuals as two distinct groups of people, I just can’t. Sure, there is a difference in labels, but the underlying pattern of attraction (and willingness to act upon those attractions) are basically the same. I also don’t think that “one of them must be invalid” follows from “they’re the same”.

    Of course, different people relate differently to words. People exist in different social environments where words may be used differently. People may have a history with a given word, which is often intensely personal. So, I think people should definitely be respected in their label preferences. But, you’d have a hard time convincing me that any issue affecting one group doesn’t also affect the other (bi/pan-phobia, monosexism), that bisexuals don’t feel identified with pan characters on TV or vice versa, etc.

  23. To me pansexual means that attraction has no gender. As long as you’re a human being, love is endless. I came out as bisexual in high school, but the term never really sat right with me, then I learned of pansexuality and it just felt so right; there needs to be more acceptance in the world, I’m so tired of being told pan doesn’t exist..by inference that means that I too don’t exist. So glad to have found your posts

  24. There are several legitimate reasons I see for the tension between pansexuals and other orientations:

    Freedom vs. Choosing to be Superficial

    By their nature, pansexuals have a choice of more people, in terms of who they’re attracted to. Not everyone has this much choice. In fact, most of the population is constrained by gender, when finding another person sexually attractive or not. This is not a judgmental or superficial choice, but just how they were made.

    The common phrase associated with pansexuality, “hearts not parts,” displays the freedom that pansexuals have to choose someone based on their heart, since all parts are potentially acceptable to them. Unfortunately, this vague phrase can also be read in another way. Because pansexuals are different than other orientations, there’s the innate implication when saying pansexuality is “hearts not parts,” that other orientations are NOT “hearts not parts.” Indeed, other orientations are constrained by gender — but not by choice, by nature. This is not a superficial dismissing of people, but just a natural constraint. Within the scope of one gender, another, etc., the other sexualities do often choose a lover based on their heart. They just have less choice in terms of the body of the person they’re attracted to.

    This phrase “hearts not parts,” can thus cause pansexuals to appear holier than thou. Touting a freedom that other sexualities don’t have is admittedly insensitive, as these other sexualities do not have a choice and this can be a cause of great pain to them — especially in the case of homosexuals who have such a small percentage of the population to choose from.

    Indistinctness

    Pansexuality suffers some of the same issues as bisexuality (though, with interest) considering its sexual openness to people. Having someone choose someone of another gender over you, or break up with you for someone of the other gender is deeply invalidating. In truth, it’s like any other breakup, however, given the obvious differences between oneself and the other person (i.e. gender), the mind goes to that first as an explanation, and one’s own body starts to feel insufficient. While this is not really what’s going on, it’s what people end up feeling (many times), and it’s incredibly painful to feel as if one’s gender is not enough. This unhappiness can be passed on to those who are bisexual and pansexual, in terms of how others view them.

    Bias-innate Redundancy

    People of any orientation may chose a lover without dismissing them based on the way they display their gender. I have known a large number of people who are homosexual and heterosexual, who have found people attractive who are masculine, feminine, androgynous, or another unique permutation — without constraint. Amongst these people, these differences in attraction are seen as a matter of personal taste or attraction, rather than a distinguishing quality that needs a specific name.

    While there are certainly groups of people whose attraction is confined to one type of gender display or another, this behavior is not representative of any orientation group as a whole. Having the word “pansexuality” distinguish that individuals are specifically non-biased towards gender display, can come off as holier than thou, because this behavior is already extant in other orientations. While the intention may be to distinguish oneself as open, welcoming, or tolerant, having that non-bias innate to the definition of pansexuality, again, implies that other orientations are not so open.

    Conclusion

    Words are created to distinguish differences, and so the word homosexual came about to distinguish people attracted to the same sex, from heterosexuals who are attracted to the other sex. One of the major problems with the word “pansexuality” is the lack of clarity in what it is distinguishing itself from. Bisexuality already covers attraction to both sexes, so that needs no further terminology. There are some bisexuals who limit their attraction to certain gender displays, and are constrained by gender binary more than others. However, this is not always the case. This specific behavior is seen as a matter of taste and is naturally occurring within bisexuality, as well as heterosexuality and homosexuality. To distinguish pansexuality based on this point, makes it appear holier than thou, because it rests on distinguishing itself as more open or tolerant, when that behavior is already present in other sexualities.

    If pansexuality rests on the notion that gender is ultimately unimportant, and that those who identify as it are gender-blind — both in biology and display — then the name was poorly chosen, because “pan-“ denotes ’all’ or ‘every,’ in Ancient Greek, which essentially says: “I am attracted to all displays of gender,” rather than: “I do not see/distinguish gender.”

    As a note: Both the term pansexuality and the associated saying display a degree of vagueness that in and of itself, is a point of scorn for most people. As such, I could imagine this alone being a reason for much tension and scorn towards the pansexual community — with the scorn being a matter of stress over the trouble understanding the term/slogan rather than a genuine dislike towards pansexuals. Perhaps effort could be made towards more precise terminology and/or slogans, to better represent your community, as people generally have a very hard time being tolerant towards that which they don’t understand. Giving people more of a chance by making the terminology and slogans more precise or accessible would go a great way towards creating understanding and tolerance.

  25. Oh my gosh, I just love this article so much! Thanks, it’s so witty and well written. I just love the terms “assclownery” and “special snowflake syndrome”, mind if I use them? Also, thanks for saying you don’t hate me, I like to educate myself on sexualities but often feel hated or like I don’t belong there. I think I’m asexual, but I’m wasn’t sure if I was pan, bi or demi romantic, I think this article helped me. Basically what I’m trying to say is thankyouuu!!!

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