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Pansexuality refers to the status of having a sexual or romantic attraction to people regardless of sex or gender identity. It is often confused with bisexuality.
The gender binary
The Gender Binary is the belief that all human beings fall into two separate categories of people: male and female. This excludes not only intersex people, but agender, bigender, genderqueer, third gender people, etc.. Pansexuals are attracted to all of these genders, as well as the typical man and women (binary).
Sometimes this is inaccurately described as being attracted to men, women, and transgender people. Many transgender people take offense at this, as many identify as being binary men or women.
The pansexual pride flag is a striped flag with pink at the top (representing females), blue at the bottom (representing males) and yellow in the middle (representing non-binary sexes and genders).
Differences with bisexuality
While bisexuality literally means 'attracted to two genders', this is often taken to mean 'attracted to men and women', which reinforces the gender binary. Therefore, people use the term 'pansexuality' to describe their sexuality as it is more inclusive, more accurate and doesn't reinforce the gender binary.
An alternate definition of bisexuality is "attraction to one's own gender and other genders," which is very close if not verging on indistinguishable to pansexuality's attraction to all genders. A third definition is "attraction to two sexes", taking gender and gender identities out of the equation entirely, though this points to a different view of sexuality altogether. Thus, more often than not, the real difference between the two terms comes down to connotation and what feels right. A pansexual person may feel equal attraction to all genders (or not even take gender into consideration when choosing a partner) while a bisexual may have certain preferences.[note 1] Sometimes a pansexual person might choose to use the bisexual label because it tends to elicit less confusion and has greater established representation.
- This is by no means a hard and fast rule, there may be any number of reasons for an individual to identify is one or the other.
- “Regardless of Their Gender”: Descriptions of Sexual Identity among Bisexual, Pansexual, and Queer Identified Individuals Journal of Bisexuality Volume 17, 2017 - Issue 1. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15299716.2016.1228491