stuff pansexuals need to know

so there are all these pansexuals posting in forums, blogging, and reblogging shit about being pansexual.  rad.  we need pansexual discourse in order build a community; we need to share our stories and we need to learn from each other. thing is, i see a lot of the same oppressive misconceptions making the rounds, so i wrote this post for everybody who’s interested.  if you already know this stuff– plasmic (and you know who you are, i’m sure).  if you disagree with it– let’s discuss it.  if you learn something from it– yay.

so, in no particular order, here’s what i think pansexuals need to know:

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1.  binary trans* people experience binary gender.  this means that trans* women are women and trans* men are men.  end of fucking story.

so don’t say you’re pansexual cuz you’re into “men, women, and trans* people.”  when you say you’re pansexual cuz you’re into “men, women, and trans* people,” it sounds like you don’t think of, say, trans* men as men.  and that’s pretty cissexist.

2.  non-binary trans* people experience non-binary gender.  non-binary trans* people may identify as bigender, agender, neutrois, genderbender, genderfluid, genderfuck, genderqueer, pangender, etc.

go ahead and say you’re pansexual cuz you’re into “men, women, and non-binary trans* people.”  that’s how many people experience pansexuality, along with being into people regardless of their gender (people experience pansexuality in many different ways).

3.  lots of intersex people experience binary gender.  this means that many intersex people are women or men.

so don’t say you’re pansexual cuz you’re into “men, women, and intersex people.”  when you say you’re pansexual cuz you’re into “men, women, and intersex people,” it sounds like you don’t think intersex people can be men or women.

4.  bisexuality is not inherently binarist.  despite the etymology, bisexuality doesn’t erase non-binary people.  sure, there’s a “bi” in “bisexuality”, but there’s also a “pig” in “guinea pig”.  i mean, we call stephen harper “the right honorable stephen harper”, for fucks sake.  so can we agree that the english language, though beautiful, is totally cocked up?  hang on to that idea.

also, there is no reason why bisexuals who only experience attraction to people of 2 genders have to experience attraction to men and women. bisexuals experience attraction to people of any 2 genders (or to people of more than 2 genders; more on this later.)

5.  bisexuals can experience attraction to non-binary trans* people. in fact, some bisexuals are nonbinary.  many bisexuals are not only familiar with and comfortable with non-binary trans* people, but are attracted to non-binary trans*people.  the “bi” in “bisexual” doesn’t indicate that bisexuals are only attracted to people of 2 genders.  it certainly doesn’t mean that bisexuals collectively erase non-binary trans* people.  in fact, some bisexuals are attracted to people regardless of gender. even when bisexuals experience attraction to people of 2 genders, those 2 genders don’t have to be binary genders.

of course, lots of bisexuals are only attracted to women and men.  let’s not erase them, k?  but don’t call them binarist; it isn’t binarist to only be attracted to people of binary gender.  i mean, you love who you love, right?  and you wanna fuck who you wanna fuck.

so, yeah, bisexuality and pansexuality often look (and possibly feel) exactly the same.  and it doesn’t fucking matter.

don’t just take my word for it; check out #15 for links to posts from the bi pov.

6.  everybody loves who they love.  heterosexuals do it, homosexuals do it, demisexuals do it, bisexuals do it, romantic asexuals do it– everybody does it.  we all love who we love.  so don’t try to explain pansexuality by saying, “i love who i love.”  i mean, i hope you don’t think that everybody else loves who they hate, cuz that’d be fucked.

7.  everybody loves people.  explaining pansexuality by saying “i love people” just licks.  that’s like saying that everybody else doesn’t love people.  they love, i dunno, juice.  or maybe finger paints (i do!).  so “i love people” DOES NOT explain pansexuality.  “i love people” just means you’re not a total zoophile and is not a stand-alone definition of pansexuality.

however, if “i love people, not just girls and/or boys”** is part of how you discuss your pansexuality, i think that’s pretty reasonable (as in, not problematic).  actually, i think that’s rather beautiful.

eta: i just wanna add that part of the problem with “i love people” is that it equates all love with sexual attraction. which is bullshit for obvious reasons.

8.  gender is your internal sense of being female, male, or non-binary.  that’s it.  gender isn’t the same as gender expression.  gender isn’t anatomy, mannerisms, clothing, or sexual orientation.  gender is completely internal.

9.  gender expression is the way you present/communicate/perform your gender.  you can do this with clothing, mannerisms, pronouns, etc.

your gender expression probably matches your gender, insofar as it makes sense to you.  meaning, if you’re a woman and your way of expressing your femininity is to shave your head and go dirt biking– you are expressing your gender.  your gender expression doesn’t have to make sense to other people, but it should feel right to you.

10.  pansexuals can have sexual preferences.  seriously.  for instance, you don’t have to be attracted to all body types equally.  you CAN be attracted to all body types equally, but you can also go ahead and have some physical preferences and still be pansexual.

pansexuality hinges on the capacity to experience attraction to people of all genders (genders are hot!), possibly regardless of gender (people are hot– who cares about gender?).  pansexuality doesn’t hinge on the capacity to experience attraction to all bodies, though it may include it.  there’s a subtle difference there.

that said, many pansexuals experience attraction based entirely on personalities.  such pansexuals often have no physical preferences, though they can still have personality-based sexual preferences.

11.  pansexuality has nothing to with race.  this one fucking makes me delirious.  i haven’t found TOO many pansexuals talking about how their capacity to be attracted to people of all races makes them pansexual, but they’re out there and they’re fucking asshats.

i personally don’t associate race with sexual orientation.  some people have preferences (potentially very racist and shitty if based on stereotypes), but those preferences don’t define anyone’s sexual orientation, imo.  i mean, somebody could have a serious attraction to poc, be totally repulsed by white people, and still be pan.  right?  they could also have some serious racist potential depending on how they handled their attraction to poc, but they could totally be pan.

so, to reiterate, pansexuality hinges on the capacity to experience attraction to people of all genders, possibly regardless of gender.  don’t fucking bring race into it.

12.  lots of trans* people are not ok with being called “transgenders”.  a few trans people like the word, but lots of us think “transgenders” sounds rude.  you need to be aware of that when you’re slinging “transgenders” all over the internet.

if you want to call yourself “a transgender”– go ahead.  that’s cool.  just don’t apply “transgenders” to trans* people you don’t know unless you’re hoping to offend people.

i was going to try to explain the problem with “transgender” being used as a noun, but then i found this rad article.  i don’t have the excellent brain-fish required to explain this issue as explicitly as the article does, so just read it.

13.  [TW: slur, violence, transmisogyny] “tr*nny” is a hate word.  it’s a violent word.  it’s a word you write on somebody’s face after you’ve beaten and possibly killed them.

hate words belong to the people they oppress.  this hate word is USUALLY used in attacks against trans* women and other dmab trans* folks.  so it’s their word.  they get to reclaim it or ditch it or whatever they fucking want– but you don’t get to help reclaim it unless you’re a dmab trans* person.  attempting to “reclaim” a word that wasn’t yours in the first place is simple appropriation.

for instance, i’m a non-binary trans* person.  in the past, i’ve been visibly trans*, but i’ve never been called a “tr*nny”.  if someone were to call me a “tr*nny,” it would be a transmisogynistic reference to dmab trans* people and it still wouldn’t be my fucking word.

14.  (trans*/cis) women and (trans*/cis) men experience binary gender.  everybody else experiences non-binary gender, excepting people who don’t experience gender at all.  the gender binary is a gender system including only men/boys and women/girls as mutually exclusive categories.  cis people identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.  trans* people don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.  some trans* people experience fluid gender identification.  this is fucking important.  pansexuality specifically includes attraction to people existing outside the gender binary.  you need to understand these phrases: “binary gender,” “non-binary gender,” “gender binary,” “cis”, and “trans*” if you’re going to talk/write about pansexuality.

15.  you need to do some fucking research.  if you’ve already done some research, do some more research.  if you haven’t done any research, fucking get to it; now’s the time.  there’s no such thing as too much research and this shit is important.

for the pan pov, check out i can’t even get angry at people who hate pansexuals just for being pansexual, pansexuality test, 10 panphobic myths, fuck NO, pan problems, and what does it mean to be pansexual? (yes. some of those links are to my own posts.)

for non-pansexual pov’s, check out these links: why i identify as bisexual and not pansexual, the “two” in “bisexual”, my evolving definition of my bisexuality, bisexuality, binarism and why everyone has it wrong (contradicts my point about bisexuality not being inherently binarist and i totally disagree with it, but i’m including it so this isn’t too one-sided), an excellent rebuttal to that last link, and pansexuality: a hidden gender binary buster.

also, q&a: bisexuality vs pansexuality is pretty informative.

**thanks, selena!

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so, peoples, thoughts?  do you already know this shit?  do you disagree with this shit?  do you have any links to add to point #15?  anything to add to this article?  this is an important conversation, peoples; i’d love to talk about it further.  i’m also interested in links to informed pansexual writings.


108 responses to “stuff pansexuals need to know

  1. It’s interesting that some people try to describe being bisexual as binarist. Since when was sexual orientation indicative of how you saw or treated human beings in general? Is a straight man heterosexist just because he is only attracted to women? That doesn’t make much sense (as you said, you love who you love, you fuck who you want to fuck)

    There is something to be said about how you experience the world, and other people, however. Identities are primarily forms of self-knoweldge (this shouldn’t be viewed in “negative sense,” only in so far as negative represents confining, barred, or a “lack of”). So how you “see” yourself (in terms of gender, sexual orientation, race, class, etc.) does affect how you experience the world (and therefor others). This can be in part constructed, and have a lot to do with the way privilege works in our society (through various representations). Anyway, if one’s being bisexual is based upon a cis (and therefor binarist) discourse, it’s something to keep a critical eye on, rather than define as binarist. The critical aspect comes into WHY someone is only attracted to men and women (and what they mean by MEN and WOMEN). If they see men as people who were CAMAB, and women as people who were CAFAB, and are attracted to “them” through these representations.

    What i’m getting at is, that there is nothing inherently binarist about being bisexual, but HOW and WHY someone sees themself as that, can be binarist, or have binarist justifications.

    Being pansexual, to me, does not mean “I love people.” or ” that i’m attracted to x, y, and z. peoples,” but that I’m capable of being attracted to anyone, with any gender, binary or non binary, or lack of gender (though at times it can be more fixated on one type of people, it’s rather fluid).

    Interesting post :D (i typed alot :o)

  2. “…what they mean by MEN and WOMEN.”

    this always interests me. i also like to know what people mean by “men, women, and others.” are the “others” still human? are some of the “others” really men and women who don’t meet cissexist standards?

    so, yeah. bisexuals can be crazy-binarist– but so can everyone else. it’s something i see crossing almost all boundaries. that said, the bisexual community has a long history of welcoming non-binary and binary trans* people. sure, there’s still some cissexism present in the community, but i feel like they’re working on it.

    however, the pansexual community (is it even a community, yet?) seems RIFE with cissexism, if the internet is any gauge. almost all pansexual internet writings seem to include cissexist/transphobic statements like, “men, women, trans* people, intersex people…” ew. btw, if you think i’m wrong about that, pleaseplease point me to the rational, informed pansexual writers; i need to read their stuff.

    “Being pansexual, to me, does not mean ‘I love people.’ or ‘that i’m attracted to x, y, and z. peoples,’ but that I’m capable of being attracted to anyone, with any gender, binary or non binary, or lack of gender…”

    i relate to this; it’s pretty much how i describe my own pansexuality. rad!

    thanks for your thoughts, cat! and there’s no such thing as writing too much. thanks!

  3. I really like the way your points help define pansexual. Pansexual means many things to me, one of which is that I’ll consider anyone whom I can be attracted to as a possible candidate for dating, and otherwise. However, often times my personal preferences tend to led me to want relationships with women, and non-binary peoples (trans and cis). Something I often don’t see is cis people identifying as non-binary. Someone who falls outside of the transgender definition, but feels and identifies outside of the traditional binary. I think that identity can be valid as well, and one that is probably a greater minority.

    But back to the preference thing… the main reason my preference is what it is relates to my interactions with men being far less than stellar as an average. As a result, men tend to scare me; additionally, my slightly asexual nature leads me to find highly sexually aggressive people very scary. Unfortunately, cissexism, and sexism in general coupled with patriarchal privilege makes men more often displeasing or less preferable partners for me. I certainly don’t discriminate against them, but culture can play very strongly into who we prefer within our pansexual identity. It’s why transmen, non-binary men, and genderqueer men are attractive to me verses the culturally sexists.

    Some people might try to say, well if you are mainly attracted to women why call yourself pansexual? Well, simply because I have a preference based on culturally displeasing influences, and personal experience doesn’t mean I am not pansexual. It equates to the same argument of saying a woman isn’t bisexual if she primarily engages with men. But you’re right, cissexism is everywhere, and I ask myself if you are attracted to men and women then why eliminate transgender people as an option? If it isn’t about a persons genitals then was discriminate? I think to a degree this is because of how culturally we have been taught to perceive the bodies of transgender and intersexed people.

    Media has had a bad tendency to portray the trans body especially as dirty, unclean, distorted, against God, tainted, and unattractive. This is why cissexism and the bodies of trans people become such a big issue in the arena of sexuality. It’s not out of superficiality but I’d compare my body with the famous sculptures of hermaphrodites. A female body with male genitalia. I find my body beautiful, and I find the bodies of those like me, who are non-binary to also be beautiful. This also relates to other forms of cultural body shaming in ableism, sexism, racism, religious persecution, et cetera. Culture has this view that only the Adonis and Aphrodite body is acceptable, and any body that falls outside of that is unwanted or undesireable.

    Our culture has an obsession with shaming and othering bodies that fail to conform to that model, and so few people do. You could almost call it a bodily form of elitism, the misnomer that if your not sexually objectifiable by that standard then you are nothing, less than human. Cissexism is just one aspect of a much bigger cultural infatuation with unrealistic superficiality. It’s why plastic surgery is booming when the economy is tanking. Everyday Hollywood stars who were already the envy of many get plastic surgery to futher push the window of beauty into the realm of unrealistic. People unfortunately come in all shapes and sizes, and most people can’t afford or don’t receive plastic surgery.

    To all other pansexuals, I advise you be aware of this propensity and rise above it because beauty in the end is in the eye of the beholder. Our bodies aren’t wrong, your eyes are.

  4. This is a great post- the only part I might be careful of is that one may accidentally get the implication from this that all trans people conform to the gender binary. I think it might be safe to mention that trans* can be an umbrella term for everyone who isn’t cis, for example people who are genderqueer, genderfuck, bigender, trigender, two-spirit, and more– and while being called “transgenders” may be insulting, being called trans* or a transgender person may be the terminology others prefer; it all depends on the person.

  5. Soooo….
    If transgender is a term which in common usage, includes transsexuals, gender queer, inter-gender, and people who identify as having no gender, I’m not sure why we can’t use that word, and why pansexuals can’t use it when self-describing.
    And I say this as a person who absolutely does not have boundaries based on sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Cissexism and transphobia bother me: I also don’t understand what the difference between bi and pan is as outlined by this blog.
    (This is not to say that I outright disagree with or dislike this blog. I think it’s informative and I appreciate it.)
    Could we possibly get a more expansive explanation?

  6. @ reneta: “Our culture has an obsession with shaming and othering bodies that fail to conform to that model…”

    ah, cissexism. what ridiculous standards you set! yeah. i concur x 10 trillion.

    btw, have you read pass or fail? i think you’d like it. i think you’d be like, “yes! fuck you, assclowns!” while pumping your fist in the air.

    Our bodies aren’t wrong, your eyes are” is just fucking beautiful. i relate to this in that society keeps telling me that my tits and my pussy are feminine– but they fucking aren’t. they’re non-binary.

    thanks for rocking my think-tank, again!

  7. @ sean: “…one may accidentally get the implication from this that all trans people conform to the gender binary.”

    oops. i totally didn’t catch that; thanks! i added a new #2 between #1 and the new #3 and i think it helps. what do you think?

    being a non-binary trans* person, i guess i sorta took myself for granted. lolz. that’s some cupcakery for sure.

    thanks for the feedback; i appreciate it ever so much.

  8. I like being called cat!!! (especially since throughout the day all i hear is “hey man! what’s up!” or when i’m with a grou of people “hey guys). yucky.
    I’m afraid i’m not familiar with the pansexual community online but I wouldn’t be supprised about the horrendous cissexism.

    Goodnight (poofs away in a smoke of glitter and rainbows)

  9. @ anon: first off, thanks for sharing your brain! i fucking love feedback like cookie monster loves cookies. so.

    “If transgender is a term which in common usage, includes transsexuals, gender queer, inter-gender, and people who identify as having no gender, I’m not sure why we can’t use that word, and why pansexuals can’t use it when self-describing.”

    if you’re referring to #12, you should realyreally check out the link. but here’s a juicy quote from the article i linked to:

    “Describing a person as ‘a transgender’, article and all, is dehumanizing because it makes the person in question less than a noun: it defines them as not a person… They are an adjective: one aspect of their life that has been pulled out of context of their humanity to mock and to shock.”

    so while “transgender” is a wonderful, descriptive word, you shouldn’t blindly use it as a noun; it’s an adjective. grammar isn’t the issue– othering is the issue. that said, some trans* people like using “transgender” as a noun and that’s totally splendid. just be aware that lots of trans* people get upset about it; be careful when you use “transgender” as a noun. that’s all. don’t call ME “a transgender,” for instance.

    “I also don’t understand what the difference between bi and pan is as outlined by this blog.”

    as far as i can tell, from reading as many bi blogs as i can, the only across-the-board difference between bisexuality and pansexuality is (drumroll, please) the label. seriously. sure, there are differences between individuals, but both bisexuality and pansexuality cover a shit-ton of area and they overlap in many places. i really don’t feel comfortable going into TOO much detail about bisexuality– i’m not bi. however, if you check out some of the links in #15, you might learn something about the bisexual perspective on this shit.

    again, thanks for commenting!

  10. @ anon jaster: goodnight, cat! don’t swallow TOO much glitter! mwa. i loved your exit. yay! *flies away in a space ship crewed by dinosaurs and covered with blink-y lights*

  11. By the way I totally liked that article, and it did have some “yes! fuck you, assclowns!” action to it for sure. I think it’s one of the best articles I have seen about the transgender experience and dealing with social perceptions of our bodies. As for bisexual, as a label… it is a tricky issue. It exists because the prevalent social perception over the last 50 years in Western Culture is Gender Binary. (Men, Women and the erasure of anything else).

    On dating sites (any of the few who allow you to) I toggle my orientation as bisexual because your only options are Gay, Straight, or Bisexual. However, in the details of my profile it mentions I am pansexual. Bisexual – bi meaning two and sexual referring to orientation will always be a Gender Binary related label. The use isn’t inherently binaryist, but derivatively it is. I do not hide that I am not binary, or that I am trans; however, it’s something only readily apparent to a few people.

    Some people are okay with that, others are not. I personally find that many (far too many) bisexual men and women are very cissexist because bisexual for them it means cismen, ciswomen, and no “OTHERS”. In fact, I have had bisexual women take interest in me to come back later and say, “Sorry I don’t do [sex changes]” after realizing I am transgender (even though I openly state this).

    I find that of all queer banner groups the most binary affirming among us to be the least receptive to accept transgender people as having a gender to be sexually orientated to. My thoughts on this though is that I feel if you embrace your trans brothers and sisters that you avoid using bisexual, especially where it could be cissexist to do so. And as a last note transsexual is a grammatically a noun, but it can still be considered inappropriate to use it in the place of a personal/gendered pronoun depending on the situation.

    ***Does and 24 foot backward vault onto the top of a street lamp. Looking down with a glimmer in her eye, she then does a 2 finger salute and whisks off across the rooftops disappearing into the moonlight!*** (since we are using literary exits now :3)

  12. I have just one issue with this article, and it’s pure semantics. So I want to preface this by stating clearly that I understand what you’re trying to say, and I agree with you. I am merely correcting your wording, not your idea.

    ‘Binary gender’ is a system wherein there are only two genders. If we are going to acknowledge non-binary gender, then there is no binary gender. There is still male, and there is still female, but if there is anyone who doesn’t fit into one of those two categories, then ‘male’ and ‘female’ aren’t binary categories – they’re just categories. Trans women can fit fully into the female category, but that doesn’t make them binary. Cis men can fit fully into the male category, but they aren’t binary either. There are no binary trans people – just trans people who identify with different words. Some are male, some female, some bigendered, agendered, genderqueer, etc. But ‘male’ and ‘female’ aren’t inherently binary unless you refuse to acknowledge all other categories.

    If you disagree, I’d love to hear a rebuttal. If you do agree, I leave it up to you whether you want to edit the article or not. Just wanted to put this out there.

  13. I think, from my interaction with Mx. Punk as well as some of my own sentiments that ze airs on the side of understanding… Explaining gender as non-binary to binaryists is difficult as a default position. What I am saying is sometimes we use words to define things to others that we understand on an individualistic basis differently than others. I understand gender in a way others don’t, but I use words that approximate my reasoning to relate to a broader audience.

    However, I do not speak for Mx. Punk’s perspective in either a literal or in a literary sense. I just know how difficult it can be to explain gender in a sense outside of popular consensus, in a ‘non-black and white’ way that people who come from a culturally biased position would understand… In my experience I was forced to experience gender in that way because of the nature of who I am, but an abstract personal experience is harder to define in a general sense.

  14. @ Rachel:
    That’s really interesting actually. It’s often a gendered discourse to refer to people with male and female genders as having binary gender. Alot of us here, (not all of us), are opposed to thinking of gender in a binary way (and I think a gender spectrum isn’t much better, because it still polorizes men and women, as a non binary person, i’m not 60% woman and 40% man, I’m 0% both of those). Since modern gendered politics in a cisframework still demands the existence of only two genders, which are polarized in a binary, does that speak to men and women as being binary? (And what does it MEAN to be binary?). Does the fact that language, privelege, and social construction today is still impersiously binary speak to anyone’s inherented “binaryness.” I think not. Binaries are social constructions.

    While it is very interesting that you say that men and women aren’t binary because gender isn’t inherently binary, does that speak true to the expierences we share and and don’t. Is not the fact that gendered politics is still recongizing onlycertain genders as legitmate (which is stuctured upon a binary), and others as not, make certain people (men and women) experience binary gender?
    There’s nothing inherently polarizing or binary about being a man or a women, but despite this, the modern discourse of gender priviliges and recognzies male and female as the only legitimate genders. Since privilege and self-knowledge shapes the way we experience the world (the former works like shades), it leads to varying experiences. This does not mean that those people, or any people, are inherently different, but that, e.g., men and women experience binary gender.

  15. @ rachel bain: this is going to be a looooong reply, i can feel it. mwa. i am verbose.

    “‘Binary gender’ is a system wherein there are only two genders. If we are going to acknowledge non-binary gender, then there is no binary gender.”

    i get this. in fact, i LOVE this. i’ve never really thought of this before, for some reason. however, i don’t think i’m going to stop referring to my gender as “non-binary” anytime soon. allow me to explicate.

    to start with, i’m not 100% certain that i “get” gender. if gender expression is socialization, is gender just another form of oppression? if so, it is 100% socialization? 80% socialization? how do we tell? (check out sex educations: gendering and regendering women. it’s long, but it fucked with my brain and it slung me some things to quibble out.) so i’m at a point where i totally respect other people’s gender, but i’m beginning to deconstruct my own gender and the concept of gender itself. i’m starting to wonder if we would experience gender at ALL if we lived in a truly free society. that said, when people experience gender, it’s real to them– so it doesn’t matter if their gender is “real-real”. i have no answers, understand– only questions. so i don’t know if i “get” gender.

    the gender binary is a real system. it’s a spidershit system based on oppression and disrespect, but it’s still a real system cuz people believe in it and live with it. within the gender binary system, gender exists (according to binarists) in a simple binary. within this system, there is binary gender. but when you dilate your mind and gain understanding/recognition of the trillions of genders that people actually experience, you look beyond the gender binary.

    so, yes. i DO agree that gender isn’t binary. if gender isn’t binary, gender isn’t non-binary, either. gender is simply gender. thanks for pointing that out; i didn’t think of it like that til i read your comment. new viewpoints just make everything more awesome– kinda like space ninjas. so, thanks!

    but since the gender binary is (currently) a widespread system that is rarely challenged, i think it’s a valuable reference point. i like being able to say, “the gender binary is a system that includes male and female as mutually exclusive categories with no other options. my gender falls outside that system. the gender binary isn’t big enough to hold all of us.” that’s convenient. maybe i should follow that with, “so the gender binary is invalid. if it doesn’t leave space for all possible genders, maybe it should get over itself.” or something like that.

    you’ve certainly given me stuff to think about! i’m not going to change the post cuz i have a lot of considering and possible brain-reorganizing to do, but i’ll probably write a post about your comment. thanks for the conversation! keep being deeply awesome! and, you know, feel free to tickle my brain ANYTIME. thanks!

  16. @ reneta: “I think, from my interaction with Mx. Punk as well as some of my own sentiments, that ze airs on the side of understanding…”

    aw! thanks! i DO try– but you still have to point it out when my attempts at understanding fail. thanks for noticing my efforts, though; that means a lot to me.

    “I understand gender in a way others don’t, but I use words that approximate my reasoning to relate to a broader audience.”

    i understand this; i do it, too. it irks me, though. it smacks of oversimplification. wouldn’t it be more rad if we told things as they are and we educated people when possible? course, people would need to actually educate themselves– which many people don’t seem to do. blerg.

    still, oversimplification and approximation of ideas can be a RAD starting point for discussions. as long as discussions start at approximations and end up at/near truths– fuck yes!

    it’s hard, though? isn’t it? just today, i missed an “educate and come out” moment– i oversimplified things and didn’t communicate ANYTHING. oog. must work on that. O_o

    so, yeah. “binary” and “non-binary” ARE approximations– something i didn’t realize until rachel bain pointed it out to me. maybe they’re a good starting point, though. i have to reorder my brain about this shit; i’m not entirely sure what i think about it. my ideas are under construction. yay!

    ps: i fucking love your exit. like, i gasped, then laughed, then gasped again. you wowed me. lolz.

    *does 91 handsprings and lands on the back of a passing pterodactyl and flies away with a dramatic yawp of epic proportions. the pterodactyl kills/eats a nearby t-rex and mx. punk does a wonderfully zazzy dance. then they fly away away away– into space and rainbows.* …you still win, i think. lolz.

  17. @ anon jaster: “There’s nothing inherently polarizing or binary about being a man or a women, but despite this, the modern discourse of gender priviliges and recognzies male and female as the only legitimate genders. Since privilege and self-knowledge shapes the way we experience the world (the former works like shades), it leads to varying experiences. This does not mean that those people, or any people, are inherently different, but that, e.g., men and women experience binary gender.”


  18. I don’t point out gaps in approximations unless I perceive that the writers actual view point is skewed… In this situation I did not perceive that. Besides I think I have shared similar points with you before… But Rachel certainly had the point and presented it far more clear and concrete than I do… I am an abstract thinker so I can draw conclusions from that which others would not (it’s a blessing and a curse). I am so far outside the box I have found other boxes outside of it. I am by far not a rationalist, but I do have logical perspectives on some things… However, I am an emotionally driven being, so most of my perspectives are based on that. I didn’t need estrogen for that, but it certainly did debug my emotionalized rationale.

    The way I see gender is this… Our genders are a predisposition for us… Pure and simply… But it isn’t as simplistic as binaryist want you to believe. The problem is that nature has it all figured out, but human beings, the silly creatures we are, think we know better so we muck the whole thing up. My gender isn’t non-binary because it falls outside of the natural realm for human beings but because it falls conceptually outside of the human definitions thereby associated with culture. My gender identity is probably no different then 90% of those who identify as “Woman”, but I can’t attest to that as other peoples experience of gender is outside of my sphere of possible experience. Same goes for all other genders.

    Gender, in the most basic sense for me is what my deep, rudimentary, and subtle biological wiring tells me. What parts do I feel, what parts do I not feel. When I analogize it in that manner I feel only those parts that correspond with normal female anatomy. I don’t experience sex as a man, I experience it as a woman regardless of how I use the parts. My body sees those parts that don’t conform with it’s map and disregards or mutes their inputs. That is gender to me… Now in my life I define gender as that which applies to me, which may or may not be equivalent with the social constructs of gender binary. I feel female, therefore feminine is the qualities that apply to me rather than the social consensus.

    Feminine only means that which relates to a woman, masculine that which a man. Masculine and Feminine vary form culture to culture, and over time and so seldom do people understand this… Each person with in their own identity defines the properties of the adjectives of that identity. Androgyny isn’t the same from person to person any more than any other gendered or genderless adjective. Mx. Punk’s defines what X gender trait means because it is defined by our identity not the other way around. I define feminine as it applies to how I am perceiving my identity as female, but non-binary. If I like hockey then “hockey” is part of my feminine identity. However, the above concepts are lost in conversational language transition.

    In that sense my boobs are feminine, and yours are not (as you put it), because I am Rene (female) in identity and you are Mx. Punk (non-binary) in identity. You define the context of your own body. My identity is female, but it is not binary because binary is to narrow to define my “femaleness” (I’d imagine this could be true of may cisgender people). Your identity defines the traits of your being, and though these things vary from person to person they are hardly arbitrary. They are based on the multidimensional address our gender places in the universe of the human experience. Diversity does not equal flimsy, invalid, improbable, or delusional. Dismissing diversity is the work of conformists, and it’s about power rather than the a requirement to make definitions. I refuse to conform my gender to anyone else’s perception. I am me and the rest can fuck themselves sideways, with a 2 X 4, on fire, with nails, AND lemon juice at Mach 5.

    Androgynes define androgyny, females define femininity, males define masculinity, and each defines accordingly with agender, genderqueer, et cetera. Their may be averages, but people aren’t averages they are individuals and as such cultural definitions can vary radically from personal definitions. Gender is defined by our gender identity, and our expression by what gender we relate to. Those of non-binary gender are usually at a loss for sufficient definition lacking a proportional amount of like gendered role models growing up. However, through awareness we can change this and give children multidimensional models of gender so they can find other people like them to relate to and find the solidarity of those who share their gender, or a closer approximation.

    *** Clasps hands together and pulls them apart revealing a quantum singularity. Jumps through the quantum singularity and teleports to a universe she created to sit on a beach with glowing sand, with the universe setting on the horizon and a Pina Colada flavored with dark matter to drink.***

  19. I appreciate how you’re aiming to educate people further on these issues, but I don’t appreciate the fact that you refer to the “majority of pansexual people” as ignorant. The majority of people AS A WHOLE are ignorant about gender issues and sexuality. The way you word the introduction makes the post sound like it’s targeting pansexual people, who are portrayed as being less educated than non-pansexuals. Even though you qualify the statement by specifically mentioning pansexuals who blog as opposed to pansexuals as a whole, it’s still irks me, given that there are plenty of bloggers of other sexual orientations equally if nor more ignorant about these issues. And the way you single out pansexuals makes it sound as if pansexuals have more of a responsibility than people of other orientations to get this stuff right. The fact your title is “stuff pansexuals need to know” speaks to this–the content of the post is stuff ANYONE, regardless of sexual orientation, should know. As an educated pansexual active in the LBGTQ* community, I don’t appreciate the talking down to. I realize the post isn’t directed at me as a person, but the way you single out pansexuals (in what strikes me as a condescending tone) makes the post have of a negative vibe.

  20. @ Reneta
    I liked your post but i’d be careful about saying who defines masculinity, feminity, androgony.
    Someone could see their body as butch and thus be contributing to defining masculinity. Another person could be a man, see thier body as male, and be a huge Femme!!! (Femme Sharks rule :DDD).
    Anyone, regardless of their gender identity, can contribute to the defining of gender expressions.
    *( I’m a butch femme, or perhaps a femme butch, (I haven’t decided yet :3) and i contribute to (re)defining masculinity and feminitiy). *

  21. @ traviatatravail: first, thanks for commenting! i appreciate you taking the time to discuss this with me.

    “…I don’t appreciate the fact that you refer to the “majority of pansexual people” as ignorant.”

    here’s the simple truth: every single piece i read that was posted by pansexuals displayed ignorance. every single one. not the majority of them– ALL of them. by ignorance, i mean both “willfull ignorance” and “just ignorance”.

    i realized that i didn’t read everything posted by pansexuals on the internet, but i felt like i took a decent sample. so instead of writing “all pansexuals are ignorant,” i wrote “the crushing majority of pansexuals seem to be grossly misinformed…”

    “The majority of people AS A WHOLE are ignorant about gender issues and sexuality.”

    i’m with you on this one. most people i meet have never heard of pansexuality, non-binary trans* people, genderqueer people, etc. when i come out as pansexual and non-binary trans*, i’m ALWAYS met with puzzlement. everybody needs to start researching these things and talking about them.

    that said, this article DOES target pansexuals. i spent years looking for rational, informed pansexual writings and i kept confronting the same ignorance over and over again. i watched one too many youtube videos including phrases like, “i’m pansexual cuz i’m dating a tr*nny man”. this article IS aimed at the pansexuals who made those transphobic videos and wrote those transphobic posts. this article IS aimed at the pansexuals who insist on erasing bisexual voices. as i wrote, “…this post for everybody who’s interested…”, but it’s specifically aimed at uninformed pansexuals. not because i think non-pansexuals are more informed about pansexual issues than pansexuals are (i don’t), but because i think pansexuals in particular need to be informed about pansexual issues.

    “…the way you single out pansexuals makes it sound as if pansexuals have more of a responsibility than people of other orientations to get this stuff right.”

    i think pansexuals DO have more of a responsibility to get this right. we’re talking about pansexuality, after all. sure, everyone needs to know this, but i think pansexuals have a responsibility to understand what they’re talking about when they imply that there are no binary trans* people, for instance.

    “As an educated pansexual active in the LBGTQ* community, I don’t appreciate the talking down to. I realize the post isn’t directed at me as a person…”

    i wrote this post assuming that informed pansexuals know who they are. i never intended to talk down to anyone, believe it or not. “educated pansexual[s] active in the lgbtq* community” are NOT the target of this post. they are welcome to read the post, they are welcome to argue about this post, and they are welcome to discuss this post, but they aren’t the target of this post. this is a list of things i think pansexuals need to know. it isn’t a list of things pansexuals don’t know. it also isn’t a list of things YOU don’t know.

    i’m aware the tone of the post is somewhat harsh. i’ve changed a few words, but not very many (i may still alter another phrase or two). i am genuinely sickened by people who write things they haven’t even thought about or researched at all. i’m sickened by the animosity some pansexuals feel toward bisexuals; hence the links to bisexual writings.

    thanks for the feedback; i certainly appreciate it. and if you know of anything online that you want to point me toward (such as informed posts about pansexuality),please do so. i’m sure it’s out there– i just can’t find it. thanks!

  22. I was on the verge of posting something last night, but I waited. I agree with you 100% on this one Mx. Punk and what I wrote before I deleted it was vary similar, and surprisingly so… I also believe pansexuals are somewhat less allowed to “feign ignorance” when it comes to trans-people, and otherwise. I know you and I both have had verbal headbutts with feminists and others over their dismissive, sometimes “at our expense” attempts to make their point. My post before last relating to feminism and trans people was fueled by the trail of breadcrumbs from one post you made on radical feminist blogs.

    Just like you don’t appreciate the appropriations, misuses, and abuses of other groups who could benefit from knowing or who should know better. It’s why I enjoy your pansexual, transgender and other such posts to include the one you wrote about the comment you made on the feminist blog. I fight cissexism, sexism, transphobia, elitism, binaryism, and others were I see them (assuming it’s a worthwhile fight). I don’t really think you were harsh in pointing out the travesty of people who are technically identified outside of binary norms being as you observed them being. Lets not forget that heterosexuality is part of the gender binary and bisexuality, pansexuality, homosexuality, and transgender people all fall outside of it’s tenets.

    If you are not a part of heteronormativity, or it’s approximations you really should try to understand those who are like you (and if you are a part of that you need it even more). Any group can be guilty of dehumanizing those of other groups, and of their own. Any claims or positions that deny the realities of our existence, or our identities are patently wrong. If someone identified as “Pansexual” because they are dating me (who identifies as a woman, but not with the binary) I’d be very upset, because in that statement they would have othered and reduced my existence (though to less of a degree than a binary transwoman). I don’t think it is oversensitive to ask that people at least show us respect for who we present ourselves as.

    The binary is a fairy tail, and I think it is foolish to believe in it. But because I don’t identify with it doesn’t mean I think my sense of gender is any different from those people who share one similarly with me. Binary gender, and gender deconstructionist both have a problem really understanding gender as it is. One asserts them as absolutes (unchangeable, oversimiplified), the other as totally created, and both of them are wrong, and transgender persons stand as a testament to that fact. One thing life has taught me is that when two apposing views proclaim themselves right, the actual truth tends to lie in between the two. However, the tendency of people to absolutes and black and white perspectives is problematic regardless of the forum, medium, or topic.

  23. A quick clarification to my previous comment: yes, a ‘binary gender’ system exists, in which male and female are seen as the only two options. The ‘binary gender system’ can exist without binary gender actually being real. Just wanted to make sure people don’t think I’m denying the existence of people who don’t acknowledge non-binary gender.

    I get what you’re saying about using it as a reference, though. Using ‘binary’ to describe ‘either male or female’ is something we all understand, and when you’re talking to people, it’s good when they know what you’re saying. And it doesn’t obscure your point, so there’s no actual harm in it.

    And of course, people who identify with the term ‘non-binary’ should always be free to use it. From the point of view of language, it’s a bit redundant, but when it comes to identity that doesn’t matter in the slightest – what matters is really just that you personally feel the label applies, and it makes you feel comfortable to use it. Similar to how lesbians can like men or agendered people or whoever, and still identify as lesbian, or how bisexual means different things to different bisexual people.

    Thanks for the reply, too – it was awesome to hear what you thought about my ideas, and really encouraging that you took the time to respond. And so positively, too!

    Last but not least: space ninjas. Fuckin’ A.

  24. Genderbitch comes to save the day!!! :DDD
    Another fantabulous article on how bisexuality isn’t binarist.

    “Bisexualilty, binarism and why everyone has it wrong.”

  25. And a beautifal poem about bisexuality :DDDDD ( and how it isn’t confined to men and women).

    I don’t apprechiate the view that non binary trans people are “between men and women,” because that implies a spectrum which is to binary for me.
    But other than I LOVE THIS POEM.

  26. @ reneta: thanks for the solidarity! i really think that people who bother to post “informative” videos and blog posts should try to get their shit right. sometimes it’s hard (i get stuff wrong in every post i write), but you need to make the effort. so, yeah. that’s a big part of why i wrote so matter-of-factly and didn’t hand out any cookies.

    i’m handing out cookies, NOW, though. want one? (i love how often we eat make-believe internet sweets.)

    i gotta admit, though, i DID change a couple phrases after i read traviatatravail’s comment; they have a point. so…

    @traviatatravail: thanks for the input. i changed a few things in the intro and i’m happy with it; do you think it’s more palatable? i hope it’s a more effective, less alienating post. i always appreciate dissent and critique– and i love new commenters. so, thanks! and come back sometime; i rarely write such abrasive posts.

    @rachel bain: you’re pretty awesome, you know? your comments are giving me things to think about; thanks!

    as for identifying as non-binary, well, “non-binary trans* person” is working quite well for me. i don’t feel like it’s accurate anymore, though. cuz, well, if gender isn’t binary…right? i dunno. i’m also wondering what gender feels like; maybe i don’t even have a gender. fuck. it’s a journey, right? mwa.

    and yay for space ninjas!

    @anon jaster: thanks for the links! i added one of them to my post cuz it was perfect; a conflicting viewpoint! my favorite kind of viewpoint, actually. yay!

  27. Oh my God, YES!!

    I agree with 100% of all of your points. It’s amazingly written!!

    Many, many kudos to you ^^

  28. thanks! i’m glad you like it!

  29. Reblogged this on Look Alive, Sunshine.. and commented:
    I enjoyed this post, language warning for those who mind.

  30. Thanks for the read. I thought I’d know most of this, but it’s made me realize that previously, I was a bit prejudiced against bisexuals. Now I understand why that’s hypocritical. I’ll be sharing this one.

  31. rad! i’m totally stoked that you found my post helpful– and i’m super grateful for the feedback. yay!

  32. I totally agree with most of the things you say, but with your first point, i say to people that being pansexual means that i go for males, female and transexuals, not because i don’t think transmen and transwomen are not women and men but because some people would asssume that i am just bisexual if i said i go for men and women, because they don’t agree that pansexuality “exists”.

    Apart from that i love this and totally understand where you are coming from ,just sometimes things are difficult to explain to those who do not think of pansexuality as a sexuality.

  33. thanks for the feedback! huzzah! feedback is like cupcakes with extra sprinkles…

    while i totally respect your right to define your sexuality in whatever terms feel right to you, i still stand by my first point. here’s my rebuttal to your rebuttal: when someone says they’re attracted to “males, females. and transsexuals,” they further disseminate ignorance about trans* issues. however unintentionally, they actively undermine the validity of binary trans* identities, know what i mean? however, you do need to define your sexuality in your own terms (you got rights)– this is just my opinion.

    “…they don’t agree that pansexuality ‘exists’.”

    i’m out as pansexual at school (when it comes up) and with my side of the family. oog, it’s rough. they think i fuck pans and goats and all sorts of silly things. i hear you; it’s hard to explain your sexuality when doing so involves a bunch of concepts (non-binary gender, trans* issues etc.) that are totally shiny-new to most people. ultimately, though, we can only tell it like it is; we can’t actually make people understand and be respectful.

    “…some people would asssume that i am just bisexual if i said i go for men and women…”

    i’m gonna be honest and just admit that i would assume you were bi if you said you were into men and women. i wouldn’t know if you were attracted to cis* men/women and/or trans* men/women, but i would assume that you were bi if you said you were into people of 2 genders. sorry if i totally misread your comment, but i wouldn’t know what else to think. i generally try not to assume things about other people’s gender and sexuality, but i often fail. so, yeah, i’d assume you were bi. feel free to untangle my brain, ‘k?

    seriously, thanks for reading and for commenting; yay!

  34. Pingback: Gender and Sexuality – Learning about oneself outside of heteronormativity « Reneta Xian

  35. Thanks for this post. I’m bisexual, but I must admit that I have trouble understanding what differentiates pansexuality from bisexuality at times, because there seems to be no agreed definition. I am fine with people identifying themselves however they want, of course, but I think some of the confusion that non-pan people have in this area stems from that. I was always under the impression that it was either a matter of semantics, or that it depended on the gender identity of the person being described. Maybe you could clear this up for me? Because I’ve seen some conflicting opinions and even I’m getting confused. :P

    Although I always get angry when pansexuals say that bisexuality is inherently binarist, because etymology. (Protip: etymology often doesn’t have shit to do with the present meaning of a word. Even the word “etymology” can be traced back to the Greek word “etumos,” which means “true.”) “Bisexual” was originally a word for “(physically) hermaphroditic,” and only became a word for a sexual orientation later. Also I get made when people say that “pansexuality is loving people for their SOULS,” implying that bisexuals are shallow and only concerned about physical appearances. (I have a pan friend on Facebook, and while she’s gotten better over the years when it comes to her biphobia, for a long time she would still post things like that and it made me frustrated.) Or when people say that self-proclaimed bisexuals are inherently bigoted because they aren’t declaring their sexual attraction for the non-binary gendered. Um, since when was not being attracted to someone a form of bigotry? Not that gender plays any role whatsoever for me in attraction, but by that logic, all straight people are bigoted against their own sex because they don’t feel any sexual attraction for them.

  36. So I agree wit most of what you say. People tend to not know what they are talking about on the internet. There are a few points on which I don’t agree though. First would be the “I love people” issue. I do use this term but slightly modifed to describe my sexuality but usually after I’ve described how pansexual means gender blind and I say how while it’s not inherent to pansexuality I don’t discriminate between race or even religion as long as their morals and values are compatible with mine. Then I use the term “I like humans” or “I just like people” to further define myself. This is not saying that people who are not pan don’t like humans or people what it means is I like humans instead of I like girls or I like boys or I like both

  37. hi! i love it when new people comment! *does a new commenter dance*

    i hear ya, cat. i think it’s awesome as long as you don’t flat-out define pansexuality as “loving people.” “i love people” seems to be the go-to definition of pansexuality in some parts of internet-land– and i really think that’s problematic. if you’re giving some serious thought to how you discuss pansexuality, especially if you’re specifying that there are different ways to be pan– i think you’re being totally awesome. if “i love people, not just girls and/or boys” is part of how you discuss your pansexuality, i think that’s pretty reasonable (as in, not problematic). actually, i think that’s rather beautiful.

    as far as race goes, i personally don’t associate race with sexual orientation. some people have preferences (potentially very racist and shitty if based on stereotypes), but those preferences don’t define anyone’s sexual orientation, imo. i mean, somebody could have a serious attraction to dark skin, be totally repulsed by pale skin, and still be pan. right? they could also have some serious racist potential depending on how they handled their attraction to dark skin, but they could totally be pan. i guess that’s what i meant by #11. …i might change the post to include pieces of my reply to you.

    thanks for making me think about things, selena! and thanks for commenting; i seriously love these conversations.

  38. @ wytch: i keep taking ages to reply to your comments! i’m sorry; i’ll do better. i’m awful, i know.

    k, so pansexuality doesn’t hinge on the gender identity of the individual whose sexual orientation is being described. here is the non-problematic definition of pansexuality that i’ve come across: “attraction to people of all genders (binary and non-binary) and attraction to non-gendered people.” this can be broken down into the following definitions: “attraction to people regardless of gender or lack thereof (cuz gender isn’t a factor in attraction)” and “attraction to people of all genders or lack thereof SPECIFICALLY (cuz genders/gender-freedom are/is hot!).”

    some definitions of bisexuality i’ve come across are: “attraction to men and women,” “attraction to people of 2 specified genders,” “attraction to people of genders different from and similar to your own,” “attraction to people of any/all genders,” “attraction to people regardless of gender or lack thereof,” and “attraction to people of all genders” (may include attraction to people who don’t experience gender).

    as you can see, there’s totally some overlap between bisexuality and pansexuality. really, the only across-the-board difference between pansexuality and bisexuality is that act of id-ing as one or the other. they’re still both valid identities, however.

    pansexuality fits me the way bisexual doesn’t. i’m way done with id-ing as bi and having people continue to assume i’m a cis woman who experiences attraction to people of BOTH genders. and that there are only 2 genders. i love id-ing as pan because it specifically includes non-binary folks– and we’re a sexy bunch.

    that’s just me, though. i love that people can id however they want– words mean different things to different people. there certainly are some conflicting definitions out there– and i think that’s fine.

    i do, however, take issue when pansexuals 3rd-gender binary trans* cats and intersex people, though. actually, i guess this post is sorta a rant about pansexual…problems/mistakes/issues.

    and that’s fucking shitty about your pan friend. ew. i’m glad they’re getting better about it.

    i think the notion that pansexuality is about falling in love rather than in lust is problematic. it’s fine if you describe your own pansexuality as being spiritual/emotional rather than physical, but don’t go around defining pansexuality that way. cuz non-pan people can experience the same thing and lotsa pan people experience attraction to all sorts of bodies (i think bodies are hot, personally).

    ah, ye olde your-unattraction-to-(insert genders)-is-bigotry bullshit. bleh. it’s bizarre. some people just don’t think about it. i know some people also think bisexual people erase non-binary folks if they experience attraction to non-binary folks while id-ing as bi. i think this is true in some cases, but it depends on how the bisexual person discusses their sexuality.

    etymology is cocked up, isn’t it? like, totally. while i personally prefer to be specific about my attraction to people of all 10 trillion genders and to non-gendered people, i understand that that’s my own language hang-up. other people get to feel differently than i do– and that’s pretty splendid.

  39. Am I evil and going to Lgbt hell if I think pansexuals are just coward bisexuals or the new trendy term for bi? I can’t help it it just seems so damn nit picky. I define sexuality by science what chemicals in your brain b4 birth caused you to be attracted to and b4 certain surgeries trans did not physically exist only gender disphoria. And orientation us about bodily attraction and people have only a male or female noddy or a body with bits of both these things bis will like. If u keep to science and fact bisexuality exists its found in many social species but pan seems a totally human cultural construct. Does sticking to science mean I’m not be hated by Lgbt community.?

  40. um, no, i don’t personally think you’re going to hell; i don’t believe in hell. please don’t preface things by saying that you’re probably going to get called out for saying what you’re going to say; it doesn’t magically transform you into the victim when i call you out.

    i hardly think it’s “nit picky” to include people of all genders in your sexual identification if you happen to be attracted to people of all genders. you seem to be saying that bodies are all that counts while genders count for nothing. i’m curious what you would think of men with gynecomastia; are they “part woman” because they have tits? because if you’re going to base sexuality strictly on anatomy, that’s what you’d have to say; that men with gynecomastia aren’t actually men. also, would you expect me, a non-binary trans* person, to be happy in a relationship with a self-identified lesbian or a straight man because i have tits and a pussy? i’m not a woman, thanks, and my anatomy doesn’t have anything to do with it.

    furthermore, no, sexual orientation is not all about bodily attraction. maybe YOUR sexual orientation is all about bodily attraction, but please don’t presume to speak for the rest of us, thanks. even if you insist on separating pansexuality from panromanticism (most people don’t bother), sexual attraction is often (partially) based on personalities/non-physical traits. please don’t tell me how my sexuality works. it is a fact that you don’t know me and that you don’t know anything about my sexual orientation beyond that i id as pansexual (see? i’m “keep[ing] to science and fact”).

    “…bisexuality exists its found in many social species but pan seems a totally human cultural construct.”

    this may have something so with how non-human animals don’t tend to experience gender identities (as far as we know). sex roles, ok, but i’m pretty sure gender identity is a bit abstract/complicated for, say, goldfish and cows. lots of things are cultural constructs; that doesn’t make them invalid. people having the right to not get raped, for example. i’m pretty sure lots of non-human animals just go ahead and fuck whoever they want. we constructed this whole human rights thing, but it’s still valid and some of us still take it very seriously. we ARE humans (please “keep to science and fact”); i hope you expect us to be somewhat different from non-human animals.

    “i can’t help it…”

    actually, you can; please take responsibility for your own bigotry. you can’t “disagree” with someone’s life or identity without being a bigot. if you want to police other people’s identities, please do it elsewhere. honest and respectful questions are welcome here, respectful people actively working through their own bigotry and privileges are welcome here, but willful bigotry is NOT acceptable in my space. thanks.

  41. So basically a pansexual is someone that is attracted to anyone and everyone (gender wise) and not just the traditional man/boy, or woman/girl?

    I’ve been trying to sort out my sexuality since a friend called me on it (I was so far in the closet I was denying to myself that I’m not hetero) and I’m honestly thinking I’m pansexual, yea I have different body type I find sexy, but with me its all on how I click with the person, body shape, gender, looks, none of it matter to me if I click the right way with said person. I happened across this article and decided to have a read and I had to ask, its been killing me, not knowing where my sexuality lays, its like some big internal conflict that’s eating me up.

  42. hi, jenn! i love new commenters; yay! and welcome!

    cat, identity is TOUGH. like, it took me ages to find the right labels for my gender and my sexuality; i know what you mean about it eating you up inside. before i id’d as a pansexual non-binary trans* person, i felt like i couldn’t find safe spaces, i felt like i couldn’t find people i related to, i didn’t know how to correct people when they assumed i was a straight woman– it sucked. so, yeah, i feel ya.

    “So basically a pansexual is someone that is attracted to anyone and everyone (gender wise) and not just the traditional man/boy, or woman/girl?”

    it’s more complicated than that. someone who experiences attraction to men, women, and non-binary folks could id as pan, bi, and/or queer. (note: i mean “queer” as a primary identity, not just “queer” as in “i’m pansexual– and that’s one way of being queer.”)

    to explain, i’m just gonna quote myself (i’m not vain, though. just lazy.):

    “here is the non-problematic definition of pansexuality that i’ve come across: ‘attraction to people of all genders (binary and non-binary) and attraction to non-gendered people.’ this can be broken down into the following definitions: ‘attraction to people regardless of gender or lack thereof (cuz gender isn’t a factor in attraction)’ and ‘attraction to people of all genders or lack thereof SPECIFICALLY (cuz genders/gender-freedom are/is hot!).’

    “some definitions of bisexuality i’ve come across are: ‘attraction to men and women,’ ‘attraction to people of 2 specified genders,’ ‘attraction to people of genders different from and similar to your own,’ ‘attraction to people of any/all genders,’ ‘attraction to people regardless of gender or lack thereof,’ and ‘attraction to people of all genders’ (may include attraction to people who don’t experience gender).

    “as you can see, there’s totally some overlap between bisexuality and pansexuality. really, the only across-the-board difference between pansexuality and bisexuality is that act of id-ing as one or the other.”

    the other thing is, while many people describe pansexualtiy in general as hinging on attraction to people rather than to bodies– it isn’t true for all of us. some pansexuals experience physical attraction to bodies and some of us don’t. also, having a “type” is a potential component of any sexual identity; some people have types, some people don’t have types. :)

    if you want to id as pansexual (or bisexual or queer or sparkle-sexual etc.)– go for it! give it a try and see how it feels. even if you decide to id as pansexual now, you can always change your mind later on. shopping for sexual orientations can be kinda fun, imo.

    does that help? i think the salient point is this: YOU get to define your own sexuality. lemme know if you’d like any more clarification; i’m always stoked to help out if i can. stay splendid! also, come back any time!

  43. I love and appreciate the hell out of this shit! You clarified so many things I’ve just been vaguely uncomfortable about. And it made me feel that calling myself pansexual is nevertheless what makes the most sense for me, and there doesn’t have to be anything self righteous, or subtly violating of other people’s gender self-concepts, about it.
    I often get put off by “guides” and “101s”, the tone can be hard for me to get past, but didn’t get that at all here. Thank you!

  44. thanks, suzanne! i’m stoked that my little post helped you out; there’s a lot of bullshit about pansexuality out there. also, yay!

  45. hi! i wanted to thank you for writing such a well-informed post; i agree wholeheartedly that many people who identify as pansexual tend to be pretty misinformed. i feel like the term “pansexual” is highly abused on the internet as well as in the real world, and i appreciate that you’re trying to set the record straight (no sexuality puns intended). :)

    before i launch into some off-the-cuff reaction/discussion of the points you’ve brought up, i should probably warn you that i’m not much for organizing my thoughts and so this may be quite mixed-up and all over the place, and i apologize for any confusion.

    i feel like one of the first things i have to explain to people when i talk about my pansexuality is that there’s a MASSIVE line between your personal gender identity, and the gender identities that you find yourself attracted to, and i think this line gets rather blurred when pansexuality is discussed. on a personal level, my gender identity (cis woman) will always contradict and clash with my sexuality (genderblind pansexual). i get a lot of “if you don’t see gender in other people, then how can you say you’re cis female?” questions, and while it annoys the hell out of me, i understand why others would question it. i usually end up going into long rants about how i ignore the gender binary when it comes to attraction even though i understand it and acknowledge its existence and blah blah blah, it it gets rather ranty after awhile.

    i think the important thing that people have to understand when that line gets blurry is that gender identity is a completely personal thing. no one can affect your gender identity, it’s something you decide for yourself on the inside. i’ve known since i was old enough to understand the concept of male and female that i am and always will be a cis woman, but people have to understand that it stands separate from who i’m attracted to. just because i know i’m a female doesn’t mean i have to see gender in other people, and i feel like that argument gets lost among pansexuality discussions a lot.

    maybe i’m not making a lot of sense or perhaps i’m not even making much of a point at all, but i’ve had such a hard time finding people who really understand the finer points of pansexuality that i just thought i could rant a little.

    anywho, thank you for such a wonderful post, i really appreciate it :) *gives you sugar cookies with dinosaur-shaped sprinkles*

  46. @ taylor: hi, cat! :) i’m glad you like my post! huzzah! also, rants are totally welcome around here; they make shit fun.

    hmmmm…this kinda snags on me, honestly: you describe yourself as “genderblind…” and “you don’t see gender.” i’m not demanding any explanations (feel free to decline), but i’m curious about what you mean by this. “genderblind” has a bit of a broad meaning, in my experience; everywhere from “i don’t see/respect your gender and i don’t acknowledge the dynamics of gender privilege and oppression” to “gender just doesn’t factor into my attraction. i respect it, but it doesn’t get me all sexed up.” i guess i’m not 100% sure what you mean by “genderblind,” is what i’m saying.

    but, yeah, either way, it’s pretty interesting how pansexuality (and often bisexuality, polysexuality, etc.) doesn’t depend on gender identity (unlike homosexuality and heterosexuality). i mean, that seems to be a total brain-fuck for some monosexuals. i think it’s rad that you’re doing what you can to spread truth bombs about gender identity not always affecting sexual identity. yay for truth bombs!

    “…no one can affect your gender identity, it’s something you decide for yourself on the inside.”

    i really like this. totally true. <3

    also, thanks for the cookies! wanna eat cookies and finger paint? (k, now i'm super excited. i mean, dinosaur sprinkles?! blew my mind.)

  47. cookies and finger paint sound like an awesome idea! :)

    i probably should have defined that more clearly…oops. firstly, i absolutely respect individual gender identities, i see them and i understand them and i can completely identify with them. when i apply the term “genderblind” to myself it simply means that although i certainly respect gender differences, they simply don’t factor into how i interact with another person. it mostly relates to my sexual attraction to others–where you land on the gender binary (or if you land on it at all, frankly) doesn’t affect my attraction to you whatsoever. however, it also applies greatly on a social level as well; the gender you identify with will never affect the way i treat you or speak to you or interact with you, because in my eyes all genders are completely equal (which is kind of a no-brainer–wonder why politicians can’t figure that one out).

    simply put, i respect everyone’s right and privilege to gender identity and know that it can often greatly define who you are on the inside and outside, but it doesn’t change the way i see or feel about you.

    i hope that cleared up the confusion. :) i’ve got rainbow sprinkles, too!

  48. awesome! thanks for clearing that up, taylor! so going back to your original comment, that must really suck when people don’t get how you can be a pansexual cis woman. <3

    also, cookies and finger paints go reallyreally well together, imo. and rainbow sprinkles are deeply awesome!

  49. Honestly, Taylor. I wish there were more women out there like you. Moreover, I wish I could be pansexual, though to some degrees I consider people aside of the gender or genitals. I identify as lesbian because it’s the most accurate description of my sexuality. I don’t cling to labels, rather use them to define what I observe about myself. I also don’t use lesbian limit myself to “women only”.

    It’s the difference between following your sexuality culturally, or following it through your own experience of sexuality. That being said, I am panromantic, (which can also lead to sexual attraction sometimes) meaning I’ll date any gender and do so on the basis of their character, but lesbian still fits as a general rule. Tell that to most cis people and their head’ll explode.

  50. just realized that my last comment looks like i’m almost mocking taylor. i’m sorry! didn’t mean it that way; i should’ve phrased it differently. i just meant that it must suck– and it’s rad that you try to help people expand their brains.

  51. weareallstupidhere

    I wish you would spell “Because” correctly
    but you do have some good points. I explain my Pansextuality simply as “Hearts not Parts” and leave it at that. To fall in love with someone I have to get to know them, and Iooks tend to come second.
    Although It would be easier if people didn’t have to label themselves, but Humanity has an urge to fit into a category so I say let them be.

  52. i love labels! not in the let’s-confine-ourselves-with-words way, but in the i’m gonna-find-people-with-experiences-similar-to-my-own way. i think labels also help marginalized people create safe space (without labels, who would you exclude?). but, yeah, when people attach stereotypes to labels or otherwise try to confine themselves and/or each other based on labels– not cool.

    also, my english teacher would probably hate my blog due to my copious use of slang, misspellings, and general silliness. still, i try to just write the way i speak– and i totally say “cuz.” always. i’m guilty of all the annoying misspellings ever. but only on the internet; in meatspace, my spellings are beautiful to behold. ;) #no apologies #gonna spell how i wanna spell

    seriously, though, you describe your pansexuality quite differently than i describe mine; do you feel represented by this post? pansexuality is a wide concept and i want to make sure i’m not erasing anybody. sorry to come out of nowhere, but i thought i’d ask.

    thanks, cat!

  53. All the criticism about specific language nuances!

    I’m tempted to just lie down in a corner in a fetal position, too scared to say anything at all! God!

  54. i’m not sure what to make of your comment. is it totally whiny and entitled? or am i totally misreading it? (it happens.)

    like, do you think it’s totally fine to say shit like, “i’m attracted to women, men, and trans* people?” what about erasing intersex people who id as binary? do you think it’s fine to treat poc as though they’re all nonbinary by saying shit like, “i’m pansexual because i’m attracted to people of different races?” do you not think any of this cissexism/dyadism/racism is worth trying to counteract?

    lemme know if i’m misreading your comment– because i don’t know what else to make of it.

  55. In number 13 you wrote “but you don’t get to help reclaim it unless you’ve been attacked with “tr*nny”. The t word can only be used by trans people that were dmab. People that were dfab can’t use it even if it’s been used against us. When people call us the t word, they’re trying to insult us by comparing us to trans women. It’s like when racists call poc that aren’t black the n word. They’re saying they’re like black people. That doesn’t mean poc that aren’t black can reclaim it.

    The prefix bi=2 so when people use it interchangeably with pansexuality I sometimes feel ersased. I’ve come across people who think “I’m attracted to both women and men so my love sees no gender” who completely erase non-binary people. I know some people use bi to mean they’re attracted to people of the same gender/s and other genders. Some people use it to mean any 2 genders, like women and agender people.
    I don’t really mind if people call themselves bi because they feel it’s easier than having to explain pansexuality and then having to listen to assholes telling them they’re wrong and they’re just trying to be a special snowflake. So as long as they’re not assholes erasing non-binary people I’m fine with people saying being bi is like being pan.

  56. “When people call us the t word, they’re trying to insult us by comparing us to trans women. It’s like when racists call poc that aren’t black the n word. They’re saying they’re like black people. That doesn’t mean poc that aren’t black can reclaim it.”

    this is a reallyreally neon point, cat. i’m gonna change the post cuz, yeah, good point. (yay!)

    “The prefix bi=2 so when people use it interchangeably with pansexuality I sometimes feel ersased.”

    me, too. sometimes, anyway. the whole “gender isn’t a factor in my attraction– so i’m bisexual!” thing pisses me off. it’s outright erasure. i guess i just wanted to emphasize that bisexuals aren’t inherently binarist and often experience attraction to nonbinary folks cuz biphobia sucks hard. but, yeah, binarism can be a problem. bleh.

    thanks for your input, cat! sorry it took so long to get back to you; my homework was trying to actually murder me. <3

  57. Pingback: pansexuality test! | rainbowgenderpunk

  58. This was verry helpful to me, cz iim a pansexual & whenever my friends ask me “wtf is dat?” I usually send them to hell bt now ii knw to send them here:-) so thanx;)

  59. i’m glad to help! and thanks for the kind words! <3

  60. Pingback: Is the Word Bisexual Outdated? | The Rainbow Hub | News and media for the umbrella

  61. i am sick and tired of the negativity that most pansexuals seem to utilize when describing the experience
    take a lesson from the sexual revolution…which made all this possible..make love not negativity.
    learn to describe without the negativity…
    those who are pansexual either understand or don’t..
    it’s like how may gay folks describe themselves…you just know
    i get it…
    i don’t like the negativity..

  62. hi haha. i have a question. i told my friend i was pansexual and he asked if i was t or a? like what does even mean..?

  63. Hello… I was wondering if you had a link to something that digs a little deeper into the difference between being bisexual and pansexual… I am struggling with the difference between the two and I don’t really identify with either one more most days… Not to mention my attraction to women is something that is fairly new in the first place so it is a big mess of confusing blah! I would really appreciate some solid knowledge. If you can help, that would be awesome. thanks so much!

  64. @ melissa: assuming “the negativity” is in my post, please don’t tone police on my blog.

    and what exactly about seeing a problem (ignorance within this community) and taking steps to correct it (writing a blog post about it) is negative? am i misreading your comment or are you telling us to pretend there’s nothing wrong rather than doing something constructive?

    i sincerely hope i’m misreading your comment and i end up apologizing for jumping to conclusions. cuz otherwise, just no.

    @ alyssa reidel: hmmmmm… the only meaning i know of for “t and a” is “tits and ass.” also, i googled it and couldn’t find anything else. in which case, your friend appears to be objectifying folks. ??? does anyone else know? is this some secret pansexual code?

    (note to self: construct secret pansexual code cuz we need one.)

    ali: honestly, there’s so much overlap between pansexuality and bisexuality that the only solid difference is that pansexuals id as pansexual and bisexuals id as bisexual (and some people id as both). seriously. i know, that’s probably not the answer you were looking for, but that’s all i got.

    this comment thread has some good discussion going on (i dunno if you already read it). i think discussion is the best way to get a handle on this shit cuz this shit isn’t science.

    i think anytime you do find someone claiming to present ~the difference~ between pansexuality and bisexuality, they’re gonna be erasing someone. which is why i try to use the widest definitions possible without shitting on other people (for example, including attraction to people of all races in pansexual attraction shits on people cuz it’s racist).

    the other thing is, if neither pansexuality nor bisexuality do it for you, you could always consider “queer,” “polysexual,” “multisexual,” or you could just make up a word. cuz made-up words are real.

    i wish i could be of more help, cat. please lemme know if you do find anything good and i’ll link to it from here!

  65. WRONG!!!
    If a bisexual person likes all people regardless of their gender and gender expression, then that who we call a PANSEXUAL. So dont say “there are bisexuals who like people regardless of bla bla bla.. ” and still refer to them as bisexual. They are pansexual.

  66. WRONG!!!

    if a person thinks they get to police other people’s sexual orientations in order to keep everything fucking tidy, lo, they are an asshat.

    seriously, no. sexuality is not some tidy thing you can just drop into the “right” category. where the fuck do you get off thinking you can tell people how to identify? that’s just disrespectful. i mean, wtf do you think? that the world needs to fit into these boxes you’ve constructed? cuz no.

    listen up. sexualities come with communities. and humanity comes with the right to self-determination. and you only have the right to name your own sexuality. naming is power. you do NOT have the power to name other people’s sexualities.

    take your entitlement issues and scram.

  67. There is an issue that may likely be moot on some level which hasn’t been mentioned. If someone was identifying as something they clearly aren’t, and using that to appropriate on other people’s identities, then there would be a problem. Bisexual, may become an obsolete term in a society that recognizes no binary gender, but that isn’t our society. It’s still valid ID someone can choose, regardless of what anyone else things about their orientation. I ID as lesbian, not because I have no attraction to men, non-binary people, or other genders other than “Woman”, but because it most accurately defines my state of attraction to people. I am attracted to trans* (binary and non-binary) people always, and with the possibility to be attracted to a man on a rare occasion. I am a panromantic, demisexual lesbian, with the potential for exceptions should an exceptional person arise.

    The bi-pan divide is much more “complex” than any insinuation about people “misidentifying their sexuality”. The “Lesbian in a man’s body” analogy is one of those particular “appropriations of identity” I don’t find humorous when used by cisgender, heterosexual men. However, that has nothing labeling, and more to do with inappropriate use of another’s identity which the previous comment was falsely implying in that scenario. I used to use the “Lesbian/Body” phrase for me, but I had more reasons for that, and it is “in my case” more accurate than I realized at the time. I used it because I felt like a girl, who liked girls, who was trapped in my own body which was mostly male at the time. Lesbian trapped in a man’s body, was almost literal for me, and I wouldn’t say it was appropriating in such an instance.

    I’d also like to add, there is likely people who identify as bisexual, when pansexual would better fit Some bisexual women, possibly because of homophobia and heteronormativity, will refuse to identify with anything that puts them in the alphabet soup of queer, some of it being because of biphobia in queer spaces, as well as homophobia/queerphobia. Being queer is still so stigmatized in this country, so this is probably more common than you’d think. However, regardless of the stigma or what label, people have the right to identify where they feel comfortable, so relabeling them to fit a personal definition of sexuality is just wrong. Period. It would be like outing a gay person before they are even ready to come out as gay. Also, a lot of bisexuals I have talked to don’t know what “Pansexual” is, only realizing it after I introduced them to it.

    Point is, that if someone was clearly identifying as something to appropriate another’s identity for nefarious purposes when they behave in clear contradiction to that, then we can say ‘Wait a second, this isn’t right’. But if a person doesn’t identify with pansexual, they are well within their right to define that for themselves, whether that be with bisexual, or heterosexual/homosexual with a lot of exceptions. Consider this, it’s generally human nature for people to gravitate towards what is most appropriate for them semiotics and semantics, tempering it against social structures, and that is okay. People generally don’t out-rightly identify as something that is contradictory to them, like saying they are a stamp collector, when they don’t like stamps nor collect them. Such behavior would cause psychological disturbances in the form of cognitive dissonance, and other things. Your point about how these people ID is moot, and represents a cultural pattern of heteronormativity.

    The only time people make claims to be something other than what they are, is when they have some sort of political, monetary, or otherwise agenda that is being served by that contradiction. Like the religious zealots who claim to be “Recovered Homosexuals”. They are still gay, they just don’t act on their homosexual behavior, to their own detriment as many Ex-ex-gays have come out to say. It can even lead them to things as “Homosexual Behaviors” which have nothing to do with being GLBT to claim to have “cured” of them once they are made heterosexual.

    Anyone can have a “Curious Phase” which ends in them reaffirming their previous orientation (in this case, to being heterosexual). Curing someone in those circumstances and claiming to have cured Homosexual Behavior is an outright lie. But people can, and do sometimes experiment with their sexuality and change how they ID, maybe even expand it beyond their initial expectations. Whatever path they chose, they are within every right to choose. I mentioned the later part of that to deflect the “Women saying they are bisexual to attract men” bit to prevent potential asshattery that tends to follow with stigmas about bi/pansexual women. While homosexuality is seen as more acceptable in women than in men, the belief that there is something inherently wrong with bisexuality spills over between bi/pan issues, and contributes to bi/panphobia. I think I addressed the mistake in Levi’s reasoning here.

    If people who are pan want to id as bi because that feel pan is too broad for them. If people who are bi want to identify as pan then that is also on them. Only if someone is appropriating someone else’s identity in contradiction to their actual identity for the purposes of mocking, or delegitimizing that identity, then we may need to address that. However, it’s important to add this… Without being able to experience the totality of another persons existence, no one but the person to which it pertains, can declare their sexual orientation. It’s inappropriate to bash people for not fitting your little box, and semantically (semiotics), humans will gravitate towards the most appropriate words and definitions over time and social amalgamation. Queer visibility is better, but we are far from being an aspect integral to the culture of our society. The sooner we destigmatize these things, the sooner people will feel more comfortable just being themselves, no?

    I haven’t left a long comment on your blog in a while… Man, it sure got big fast. Levi, Mx. Punk here is talking about people who feel the need to identify with these labels out of genuine self discovery, not out of people trying to choose a label for purposes that you’d have to call them on.

    *** Sprouts cat-ears and a tail and prances through a field throwing down seeds on the ground in a desolate desert. They she raises her hands to the sky and makes it rain causing rainbow trees to spring out of the ground creating a rainbow tree forest. She then prances off into the forest, and out of view. ***

  68. hi, sparkle-cat! <3 it's been awhile hasn't it? and i think i forgot to reply to your email again. sorry! i'll get on it right after we finish moving!

    i agree that we need to be mindful of appropriation, but i think we also need to be mindful of not forcing individuals to "pass" the bisexual test (or the trans* test, or the gay test, or whatevs). know what i mean? like, i think we should be careful; to talk about these things on the social level rather than on the individual level (except in extreme situations). that way, people don't feel like they need to be "bi enough" (or "trans* enough" or "gay enough").

    also, yes to your point about people having the right to choose their own labels regardless of other people's opinions.

    thing is, i as someone who isn't bisexual, i don't feel comfortable hanging out discussing whether or not bisexuality will become "obsolete." it seems kinda rude to me, tbh. also, i think it's important to remember that the bisexual community is vibrant and diverse; it's veryvery different from the pansexual community. i can see how cats could pick bi over pan (or vice versa) cuz they feel more at home in one community than in the other.

    *runs off into reneta's rainbow forest to play*

  69. My whole life I’ve been attracted to people in general. If someone has a nice face and a good heart then I’ll date them. Before I knew what bisexual was, I called myself straight, because I knew I liked boys so I wasn’t gay. However in 4th grade (I was 9) I had a crush on a girl in my class. When I was 12 I found out what bisexual was and I knew right away that described me. However, I always thought ‘shemales’ (sorry that’s the term i learned from porn xD I don’t use that term anymore, but in this case I’m describing my mindset as a young teen so that’s why I used it) were physically attractive and I thought that anyone of any gender could be hot, it didn’t matter. So when I found out what pansexual was, I knew that was me.

    I never thought much of it. Around young people and alternative people like me I say I’m pansexual, because they know what it is. Around older people and people who probably don’t know what pansexual is I call myself bi. To me it doesn’t matter which word I use, because either way I’m saying I love people, and I love multiple genders.

    I’m 20, I’ve called myself pansexual since I was 14 or 15, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I googled pansexual to find more people like me.

    And I am disgusted but what I’ve found. As i said, i first considered myself bi, then pan. Therefore, I will always call myself both, because to me a lot of bisexuals ARE pansexual, they just either don’t know what pansexual is or they call themselves bi because it’s easier. I know 2 people personally besides myself who identify as bi publicly but have told me they are really pansexual. So both terms are close to my heart. But I am appalled by all the hate I saw, all the pictures on google images saying bad things about bisexuals and pansexuals treating bisexuals like the plague.

    I’ve been in 3 relationships in my life. One with a boy, one with a girl, and one with a MTF transgirl, who I am currently with.

    But the attitudes I see from a lot of pansexuals online makes me wonder if I want to be associated with so much hate. I don’t care what people label me as, all I care about is who I fall in love with. Bisexual or pansexual, it doesn’t matter because in my heart I am capable of loving anyone. I am a very peaceful person and seeing all of the arguing and hate pansexuals are showing towards bisexuals makes me very uncomfortable and upset.

  70. @Reneta:
    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have just put words and explanation to something I have struggled with for the last I-don’t-know-how-long. I won’t get too much into it, but personal experience has largely frightened me away from men. (I don’t really know whether I mean all men, trans* or cis, specifically cisgendered men, or people with penises at the moment, I’m still trying to figure that out myself.) But I’ve struggled with coupling my pansexuality with my very clear preference for women. (Same as above, I’m still not sure exactly how broad or narrow that preference is.)

    Relating to the above, if anything I’ve said is in any way incorrect or offensive, PLEASE tell me! I’m a work in progress, and I can’t try and better myself unless someone tells me when I’ve done something wrong.

  71. always_learning

    I am a pansexual person and I agree with everything you’ve said in this. I know that some people that identify as pansexual do things wrong like these, and that’s why I research about my sexuality and other sexualities almost every day. People need to know these things, and although some things you said may sound harsh I know you don’t mean them that way. You just want people to know that sometimes they are wrong about things. I thank you for this post and I hope that other pansexuals will read this! I have made my mistakes and have done my best to fix them for years. So I’ll be going now. :D

  72. I happen to just find this right now and I thought it was very interesting. I am 17 and identify as pansexual and find myself explaining it to people a lot. Lots of the things you said too stop saying I happen to say when explaining it to people but it does not mean I am blind to all the other people in the world. We just keep getting tired of explaining it. I usually say “I am attracted to people regardless of their gender identity or biological sex”, but back i get a blank stare then “so your bi” then I get into the argument “no, I am not bisexual. I feel I am pansexual, I identify as it because it best describes who I am, so I am pansexual”. Usually after that they either drop it, ask who I am attracted to than, try to tell me I am insane, or if I am luck “thats cool”.
    I wish it was better known, I am not even represented really with my LGBT at my school. I went to a few meetings and felt pretty comfortable with them talking about the different problems, but when I mentioned agender and bigender I found myself to have to explain it, and start to teach them as well that there is a spectrum of genders, and there is not just binary for biological sex too. Then I felt I was doing as I did with everyone else. I understand yay for pride and everything that was why I went, but I was also hoping It would just be accepted and known, like how easy it is for some of them just explaining they are homosexual. Would of still went but I had Track.
    I really believe the points you bring up, I find myself going against how I feel when around my friends and boyfriend to avoid a teaching lesson or a wise crack of me licking the pans again (though it is kinda funny, I laugh at myself a lot).
    I think I am pansexual case ever since I started to learn about all this dating in grade school I struggled with that idea of who I liked because to me I liked some boy in my class, and some girls, (at my school I never met any other genders) and when confronted by it by my best friend of who I liked boys or girls, I did not know how to answer. I did not see why it mattered so much what gender they were and I never even knew other gender identities existed at that point. I really liked people because of who they were and already started to question the real importance of being either a boy or girl and nothing else.
    As a pansexual who I know does some of these things, not so much against biseuxuals or any other other people part, more of the correct terminology. Its hard to not when people don’t always know these things exist. You think people not exposed to this get confused, I even get confused usually people will tell me if they want to be referred to differently regarding pronouns and I do that. (like how you mentioned in your little about me thing) I have done research and I know about a lot of these things but not everything in the world. I don’t really want to dedicate my life to explaining who I feel I am more as have the identity i feel is me, and use it, and when people have their identity and tell me to refer to it, I do so. Its not really a test for everyone to know. Though saying that you know everything when you don’t or if you do say you are above people for it.
    But really none of it all matters, cause I love who I love, and people love who they love, and what they love. Right now I have someone I love very dearly. Its the fact I love him for who he is is the important thing and he loves me for me.

    Lastly I would like to tell you some some things I really liked about this post just cause people like to get feedback. The explanation of gender being internal from your mind, it being psychological not physical. Whenever people are confused by that I usually just send them a Youtube video “Human Sexuality is Complicated” made by Hank Green (vlogbrother) and there explanation of all these things from someone who is a straight white male who does not deal or even deal with all these things a lot.
    Thanks for the links and that article I did learn a little more along with the article, I did know all the basic idea of all this but am not into in depth research with it. I really don’t have time, I am living my life the way I like, and letting everyone live there life the way they are.

  73. hey, cat! thanks for sharing your story with us; it’s always good to hear from my pan folks. <3 i don't have a lot of time cuz i'm on the internet at the library and my time is about to run out, but i really enjoyed reading your comment and i bet my readers will find it valuable, too.

    stay awesome! <3

  74. As a lesbian, and as a trans* woman I often find the veritable lack of narratives that frame my life as a positive thing very heart-wrenching. This goes beyond that though. I find dating, and living in the only way I know how as who I am hard when most people, culturally, can’t picture a “happy ending” romance with a woman like me. This isn’t a social structure limited to only trans* people, but one that affects lesbian, gay, pan, queer, non-binary relationships equally. Most movies are little more than heteronormative porn, in which heterosexual relationships are depicted as “THE NORM”, and portrayed as unrealistically successful.

    But heterosexual people have no easier a time at finding love with opposite sex partners than same sex attracted people with their romantic interests. What they do have is a monopoly on media that at least affirms their sexuality, and displays it as healthy which is a huge advantage, bigger than people want you to believe it is. Because that’s the way the media portrays it. It portrays an anomalously high volume of “hetero romance” as successful while being largely silent about GLBTQ spectrum romance, or shows antipathetic attitudes towards such romances. Moreover, this intersects with other cultural issues for women and queer men, because “Heteronormative Porn” is more often portrayed in the favor of straight men.

    There is no doubt in my mind that this has a profound effect on the kind of relationships people pursue, moreover, the kind of relationships people believe will be successful. How are GLBTQ people able to have, and find healthy and realistic expectations for romance in a desolate landscape devoid of narratives that depict those relationships having healthy and successful outcomes? How are you supposed to form healthy relationships in a biased landscape that portrays your gay, lesbian, trans, queer, pan, bi, non-binary love as unnatural and doomed to fail? GLBTQ people get thrown under the bus far too much as far as media goes, and seldom are our romances viewed in, or portrayed in positive lights.

    Even LOGO is guilty of showing television programs catered to “Making GLBTQ Safe” for cisgender viewers, or for portraying gay romance in a pornified in a very pernicious way. I think until we “culturally” speaking, move beyond the need to define relationships by such a “confined” rubric, will continue to have issues with relationships between GLBTQ people. Furthermore, the Heteronormative relationships of romantic fiction are equally “unrealistic” and set at the “ideal”, and thus their narratives being the dominant type are also harmful to heterosexual relationships. Both heterosexual and queer relationships are harmed by the “Disney-like” depictions of heteronormative romance common to much of such portrays in movie and television, and such romances regardless of sexual orientation are unfeasible.

    It affects not just the romances queer people seek, but also acts as a control of human sexuality which can prevent some people from acknowledging their romantic feelings that go beyond heteronormativity and/or pursuing those romances. I’ve see it happen in many people and it’s something that pansexual people, as well as all people need to be aware of. Media depictions of romance harm and affect real romance in sometimes very dire ways, and that is something we need to be critical about and work to prevent ourselves from internalizing. Internalization is exactly how these things get into our heads and control us. (Unlike queerifying rainbow space laser guns :3) Mew.

    I brought this up because I don’t feel people address enough just how much media and television affect our perceptions of things that fall outside of the confines of heteronormativity.

    (Prances back into the rainbow forest to go to the rainbow lab to make queerifying rainbow beamed rayguns)

  75. Pingback: Q&A: Bisexuality vs Pansexuality

  76. But if you’re a non-binary person, doesn’t that mean you could also be like oh I’m feeling like a guy today so I’m a guy and the next day or week if you felt like a lady you’re a lady… etc.??? Also, if you were non-binary, you could dress like a feminine guy or a masculine girl or any combination? :S
    Btw, you’re post was beautiful. >..<"

  77. aw, thanks! and yep, lotsa nonbinary folks experience fluid gender identity and/or fluid gender expression. for that matter, it’s not uncommon for people of any gender (cis, trans*, whatever) to experience fluid gender expression. it’s pretty splendid, imo. <3

  78. You suffer from delusions of grandeur don’t you?
    While you make some valid points, you cheapen it with foul language and terrible attitude. You go on and on about being considerate of others and doing research, etc, while telling pansexuals how to define themselves? How self-contradicting and crude.
    All the issues you pointed out can be found in high concentration, not just among pansexuals.
    Before you post a self-indulging post, YOU do some research and think about how you can actually give the article some integrity.

  79. Pingback: on trans*, intersex and gender « Bisexual Alliance Victoria Inc.

  80. @ kay: if you can’t pay attention to what someone is saying unless their words drip sweetness, that’s your own problem. i suggest you get over it before you come back here. this isn’t a church.

    and yes, i will object when people define themselves in oppressive ways. it is fucking oppressive to third gender all trans* people, for example.

    also, i’m very fucking aware that non-pansexuals are frequently oppressive in the exact ways i discuss in this article, but i’m specifically addressing pansexual people as a group. it’s a very simple concept, really.

    and kay, this post is fucking DRIPPING with integrity; it’s that uncomfortable stuff you’ve been objecting to.

  81. Kay, your argument of tone indicates a degree of immaturity on your part, and could be seen as a derailment from the discussion. Mx. Punk does a good job of being very sensitive to the matters at hand and listening when there is a valid complaint. Try being reasonable, rather than sounding like a self important asshat. I’m sorry that you don’t like their tone, but you can just keep your obnoxious, and offensive opinions to yourself.

  82. Pingback: Pixie's Sketchbook » Plurisexual

  83. Late to this party, and don’t have the spoons to read the comments, but THANK YOU.

    My identity is bisexual, and I am doing research on pansexuality to find out if there is anything in the definition of pansexuality that is not already covered by bisexuality. And I am finding that there isn’t.

    I’m not about to tell people they can’t identify as pansexual – we each need to identify as we see fit – but it still feels like a big f*ck you to the bisexual community, and to me as a bisexual person.

    Re. the “bi” in bisexual, if you take it in context with the terms homosexual and heterosexual, it is clear that the meaning is “attraction to same and other sex” which covers all sexes and genders, NOT “attraction to men and women”. I’m sure there are bisexual people who can only see “men and women” and don’t know what to do with intersex, genderqueer and genderfluid people. That’s their problem (and if/when I meet them I will take it up with them).

    So can anyone answer me, how is pansexual more than an identity originally coined because of a biphobic / monosexist interpretation of bisexuality?

  84. Hi! I’m Kate and I’m Pansexual. What gender (or lack there of) doesn’t make a difference to me. I will call you whatever you wish me to call you. It won’t make a difference to me whether you were born one way but identify a different way. If I like you, I like you for your damn personality, not your gender or sexuality. If I like you, all I want is to see you happ y being you, and I will do everything I can to support you, no matter what gender or sexuality you identify with. And by like, I mean in both platonic and romantic ways. Thanks :)

  85. Am I still pansexual if for certain periods of time I am attracted more to one gender than others? (Like for certain time frames I could be attracted to girls, then genderfluid people, etc.)

  86. Also continuing on my last post, I feel like I need to explain myself a little more, I feel attraction for all genders but I will go after one gender from time and time again and look for certain personalites in that one gender, then after a while I will go back to looking for certain personalities in all genders.

  87. Regarding the word tranny, you wrote ” this hate word is USUALLY used in attacks against trans* women and other dmab trans* folks. so it’s their word. they get to reclaim it or ditch it or whatever they fucking want– but you don’t get to help reclaim it unless you’re a dmab trans* person. ”
    In my not so humble opinion, I’m thinking it should be clarified that only dmab trans* feminine folks get to reclaim it. Because they are the ones it is usually used against. Dmab trans* peeps who don’t express in a feminine way don’t tend to be abused and assaulted with that word. Jus’ sayin’.

  88. I have heard a lot that being attracted to someone based mainly on personality is a pansexual thing. which is the reason i identify as bisexual, not becuase im shallow, but that just doesnt really fit for me. visual attractivness is a large part for me, so is personality of course. but if i do not think someone is physically attractive for me some how i wont really be interested. is this right i guess is what im asking? is this a proper reason to not identify as pansexual? i have always been attracted to either men or women but i couldnt say that another gender is not a possibility for me. i guess i am feeling confused on what fits. i am obsesssed with the female body as well as male which makes me think that pansexual is not a term for me.

  89. I thought I was bisexual for a long time before I realised that pansexual is probably the more correct way of defining myself. The main difference for me is that bisexual implies binary (male and female) whilst pansexual is more ‘having the capacity to be attracted to someone regardless of their gender or sex’ (this is simply my understanding of the definition so forgive me if you don’t agree… Or enlighten me if I’m wrong) To me, this means pansexual is more inclusive of people who are non-binary and don’t identify with either male or female. Whilst I’ve mainly been attracted to girls and guys (which makes sense statistically seeing as most people /are/ male or female) , I think I’d still define myself as pan because I’m pretty sure I have the capacity to love someone even if they are not binary.

    Also, I know this is a discussion and it makes sense that there would be arguments about definitions but some of the comments seemed like they were arguing that either pansexual or bisexual was better. At least, that’s the way I interpreted it so I offer my apologies if that’s not the case.
    I just wanted to highlight that despite the differences in opinions we may have, we are all part of a minority and certainly one which I think would be better off united.

    In regards to Alison’s comment, ‘I have heard a lot that being attracted to someone based mainly on personality is a pansexual thing’
    I think what you’re referring to is demisexual. ‘Demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond’
    From my understanding, I think you’re probably pansexual. I can identify with what you were saying and I’m pretty sure pansexual includes physical/ sexual attraction as well as emotional.
    On the other hand, if you previously identified as bisexual, I don’t think there’s a great need to change. I realised during the course of writing this that some people who identify as bisexual actually define it as being attracted to many genders (as opposed to just male and female)

    I think I’ll identify as both bisexual/pansexual from now on. Though at heart, I know the labels doesn’t matter so long as you understand yourself and all that you’re capable of :)

  90. I agree whole heartedly with you. The word “trans” anything shouldn’t be used. I make it habit to explain my sexuality as “Hearts,not Parts.” I don’t know exactly what it is to attracts me to people, but I know it when I see it, and that’s all that matters. I’ve just been struggling to find a way to express myself to people who don’t totally get it, so “Hearts , not parts” works well.

  91. I knew all this, and that makes me a proud pansexual! Thank you for this post, though, I agree with it 100%, and many pansexuals need to hear this. Pansexual isnt beinng attracted to three or four genders. That would make you bisexual. Pansexual is ALL and ANY gender attraction. Some people don’t quite understand that. The only real way to explain pansexuality is “I don’t think of gender or sexuality in my sexual preferences.” Because that’s really what it is: Not taking gender or sexuality into account when deciding sexual preferences. And saying “I love all kinds of people so i’m pan” is 100% ridiculous. Straight people can love all kinds of people! Straight people can NOT, however, experience sexual love/ sexual beauty/ sexual attraction with all people. There is a difference.
    ANYWAYS, thanks so much! <3

  92. Loved it. Im pansexual newly enlightened to myself on the subject and how I’ve been feeling since my first sexual experience with a man. All day today I’ve been going over my feelings and my love for people not just girls/or boys(yes i copied your words :p) but didn’t know whether what you would call me even though I’m not a person too fond of labels (My hipster ways just shone through lol) but I had to have some clarity because not everybody is or thinks like me on the front of labeling people instead of just letting them whoever whatever they may be or identify as. So being the curious person I am I googled pansexual to find out its definition and once I wasn’t fully keen on what the definition given to me was I saw this article and well… I learned a lot I’ve been this way a while hell I was born this way but not accepting myself but since all these years passed and now that I’m 22 a little older and wiser and told a very close straight friend of mine what I am although he was confused when trying to tell him I also wasn’t so sure on how to describe pansexuality or even if I had the term right for my sexual preference and lets be honest, there is a lot to learn and its important to be politically correct and not unknowing hurt somebodys feeling by saying the wrong thing and yes, I do admit i still have a lot to learn about all this article touches on and yes I may be behind on all these things to remember and keep in mind is quite scary because I dont want to hurt somebody thinking I’m saying the right thing but come to find out could’ve been wrong this whole time and let me tell you I dont like being wrong haha. So I WILL do my research for and because of you for this beautifully written in depth simple article, stay beautiful keep it peachy and thanks for enlightening me. I send my love with a forever grateful thank you!! :*

  93. So, can you be pansexual but be only attracted to anyone who acts/dresses in a masculine way? Or would that just make you androsexual?

  94. Hey,
    I am slightly confused. But while I’m asking this question, please keep in mind that English is not my first language so I’m probably gonna sound really dumb because I didn’t fully understand everything you said.
    Do you or do you not think pansexuality is how someone can validly identify?
    Because you made some statements that make it seem like you didn’t but also some that made you same neutral to say the least plus you put the flag at the bottom. Personally I think pansexuality simply fits under the “bisexual umbrella” and that people can identify as it. But of course that’s just my opinion and everybody can have their own opinion.

    I don’t know how to properly end a message like this bc I’m Dutch,

  95. Thorn Blackwood

    Ok just a simple 2 cents here. This is my own opinion and I know I’m an oddball at the best of times.

    For me this is how I see my sexuality and gender.

    Gender: I am a biological man who expresses almost equal feminine masculine qualities and as such see it to be healthy for me to try to keep a balance between those polarities as both are useful and necessary. Especially for empathy and trying to understand both genders in their beauty and capacity.

    As for sexuality I’ve not found an appropriate term for how I feel and think so Pan is probably as close a label I’d feel semi comfortable with.
    But this is how I think and feel; my attractions aren’t limited to genders, I’ve had long relationships with people up to twice my age. I bare in my heart an unconditional love for life as a whole.

    But if sexuality is primarily about attractions then if I’m completely honest my attractions are basically all intellectual, spiritual and creative. This is where it gets curly for me, If there were an alien species that met my above criteria and for some reason found me interesting I would pursue that to see where it went (so long as it isn’t some kind of praying mantis situation bound to end in tragedy) just as much as I would with a human relationship.

    All that said I am still despite all that I’m very picky especially on the intellectual and creative sides. I’m an inventor, magician and musician and I guess in an almost obvious way these parts of my identity are manifest in my sexual interests. As a kid my best friend at school was my librarian and I was appreciatively nicknamed the “library eater” by her. So I guess it also makes sense why I could be attracted to older persons since associating them with being the gatekeepers of knowledge and also my first friends.

    Now that that’s out of the way I want to say this.
    Sexuality is clearly such a intricate, personal and individual experience that it in its nature defies labeling. So should we be creating ever more complex labels and lexical semantics arguments or should we focusing on just getting people to relax about their sexualities and just share and accept? I feel like these movements have a tendency to get a bit side tracked by some people, ideals or pop culture, I just think our efforts might be better aimed at returning to more of an acceptance movement, after all isn’t that what all this is about?

    Being free to express our identities as we see fit without infringing on others same deserved rights.

    Peace and love peoples,

  96. I don’t think that sexuality and gender need to have so many rules. I feel like, in an effort to free people from social boxes, the growing specifications are only pinning people down even more. It’s not so black and white. It’s not like there are specific tones of grey that we have to adjust ourselves to match — more that it’s a gradient with the possibility for any hue. Technically, being the person that I am, I do belong in the LGBT world and therefore have experience to base my opinions off of. But the fact that so many rules are being created within the LGBT community which are forcing people into solitary corners only makes me believe that I never have belonged and never will belong. It doesn’t have to be so complicated and strict. The fact that there are people trying to dictate how we love, feel attraction, and identify with ourselves and our communities — to me — just seems wrong and exclusive.

  97. I know a guy who identifies as bisexual because he’s attracted to women and non-binary people, but not men. So some bisexuals are attracted to non-binary people without it being synonymous with pansexual.

  98. I identify as pan because I am not attracted to people based on their gender – or their appearance at all. Mostly, I am attracted to a certain connection I have with a person, regardless of gender, race, body type, etc. That being said, there are certain traits (political awareness, musical talent, healthy habits and the list goes on) in people that I find attractive and so I do still have a “type” but it nothing to do with anyone’s genitals.

  99. I’m pansexual because I like everyone men ( all man trans or not) wemen ( all women trans or not) and everyone in between

  100. Hi I was wondering if you could help me out because I’m pretty sure I’m pan but is it ok to be pan and identify as a girl and be a feminist

  101. Couldn’t make it past the 7th because it’s distorting definitions regarding bisexuality, pansexuality, gender identity, and gender expression lol. Clearly, you have NO IDEA what you’re talking about regarding these topics. But because this article is 5 years old, I’ll give it a pass.

  102. I just got through reading your article and had no idea until I looked on us porn site will keep the name Anonymous I’m not in to promoting porn sites but the site promotes all genders on there and I was not aware of a pansexual till it asked me if I was so I looked up with pansexual was and wow explains a lot thanks for the article it helps me to realize and explain a lot to me today I understand myself a little better thank you

  103. Explaining all this stuff, it becomes apparent that you must have had a lot of bad experiences as a trans person dating people in general – I am sorry about that. I don’t care if you are cis or not – If I like you, I like you as a person and what we might or might not do in bed (if you like me back), which is the only really justifiable reason for wanting to know what you have down there and thusly if you are trans (and even if that is relevant is debatable).

    In short: Pan has nothing to do with gender – for me – so why should it matter to true pan people.

    Why am I saying this? Because this is what everyone should know, not what Pans should know.

    What I really want and need to know as a pan – what I need help with – is how to navigate society. It may seem free and great if you hear about it as open people but it is insanely confusing, being that way. Not everyone understands it – To make it simpler for others and for me, I didn’t correct people who thought I was gay for a few years so now, how do I as a firmly established gay person come around the corner with a girl in my arms – I don’t want to be bi either, that feels wrong. I am sick of having to navigate this and changing my “identity” – or what I have people believe for simplicity. You won’t believe the reactions I get if I reveal this to people even here in Berlin. As out trans people you got through a lot worse than I am chewing on, I am aware of that but maybe because of this, some of you can help or have tips – I have nobody in my life who understands this really. For most trans people, the truth has to come out so you feel like you can be who you are and the pressure must be extreme – as a pan, I see a whole lot of possible problems and not enough necessity or pressure to show myself as such, also because ultimately sex is a private matter (for most people…but I think that may be an issue we share). Even though this may not be remotely as sucky as being trans in a conservative society, I do feel unhappy – so what do I do?

  104. This might get me I to trouble but whatever. Why does there have to be rules for anyone? Why does anyone need to have term to identify with? Why can’t people just like who they like and getove themselves and each other? Personally I think having rules for a preference is pretty dam sexual preference…is? Lol people change rules change so why be so limiting?

  105. Pansexual to me means that I fall for peoples personalities regardless of parts or how they identify. I can very attracted to gay men, (knowing full well it will never happen,) I am attracted to many body types, I like men who are feminine and masculine, and the same can be said for the women Im attracted to. Although I do gravitate toward larger bodie than mine, both male and female.
    But more than the physical I’m attracted to steady and calm, soft exaggerated hugs, forhead kisses, snuggles on the couch, a love of animals, and a willingness to experiance knew things with me. I can be a bit of a spinning top and fly all over the place so I enjoy a person who can reign me back in without stomping all over my free spirit.
    Thank god I found my SO who happens to be an amazing person willing to pick up after an ADHD riddled weirdo with a motor mouth and a 200 mile an hour brain.

  106. Hi there, You have done a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends.

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  107. You’re a punk? Haha… sure… there’s nothing more punk than laying out a tedious list of authoritarian rules and insisting everyone follows them. You’re “the man”.

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