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.
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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.