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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.

Beyond the binary[edit]

Conceptualizing gender as binary means to take it that there exists only two mutually exclusive and completely separate categories for gender: men and women. Talk of a sex binary is applying the same idea only to biological sex: male and female. This excludes not only intersex people, but various non-binary gender identities/expressions as well. Pansexuals typically describe their sexual attraction in terms of being unconcerned about gender identity and expression, feeling a general sexual attraction to "people" as individuals. Omnisexuals would describe their sexual attraction as being towards people of every and all genders, whereas the gender identity and expression of the individual is relevant to the sexual attraction.


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 from bisexuality[edit]

Bisexuality often is used to mean 'attracted to two genders', this is often taken to mean 'attracted to men and women', which can reinforce the gender binary, depending on one's interpretation. As a result, some people use the term 'pansexuality' to describe their sexuality as a more inclusive alternative.[1]

The transfeminist writer Julia Serano would be quick to point out that the assumption that bisexuality necessitates an identification with the gender binary, is itself, biphobic, and is often utilized with the express aim of undermining the historically established solidarity between bisexual and transgender activism that was prominent in the 1990s. [2] This assumption would also erase the identities of non-binary folks who identify as bisexual.

Another definition of bisexuality that is sometimes used is "attraction to one's own gender and other genders," which makes the distinction between bisexuality and pansexuality seemingly absent. Another frequently common definition of bisexuality is "attraction to two or more genders". Some may define their bisexuality as a "attraction to two sexes", taking gender and gender identities out of the equation entirely, though this arguably carries with it certain problematic associations depending on how one conceptualizes sex.

The difference between the two terms comes down to whatever feels right for an individual. 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 gendered preferences. Sometimes a pansexual person might see themselves as being also bisexual, and vice versa for a person who is a bisexual. The terms having slightly different meanings and connotations warrants treating them as separate identities. This is before things get complicated further with the use of such identity markers like omnisexual, or polysexual.

See also[edit]

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Pansexuality.



  1. “Regardless of Their Gender”: Descriptions of Sexual Identity among Bisexual, Pansexual, and Queer Identified Individuals Journal of Bisexuality Volume 17, 2017 - Issue 1. DOI:
  2. Serano, Julia. Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2013

External links[edit]