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Am I Pansexual or Bisexual? What’s The Difference?

As you probably already know, sexuality and sexual orientation are ways in which you convey your romantic attraction. These deeply personal feelings are often difficult to express if they do not fall into the heteronormative, preconceived notions. That sucks. This is why we want to be able to help you answer the questions, am I pansexual or am I bisexual?

Inclusivity is key and it’s important to mention that you do not have to put a label on how you feel. This may however be a way to explain your orientation to others and perhaps even find a community of like-minded people.

Am I Pansexual or Bisexual? What's the Difference?
two groups of diverse people, on the right

Bisexuality refers to having an attraction to two or more genders whereas pansexuality refers to attraction to all genders. We know, this seems very similar but let’s break it down.

A Short History Behind The Terms

The term ‘bisexuality’ has a more historic definition and discussion than pansexuality. Bisexuality has origins within the 18th century where definitions of it began. Pansexuality has been explored more recently in the 20th century with origins in the work of Sigmund Freud. We must delve a little deeper to understand the historical context of the terms.

Bisexuality 

Being Bisexual refers to attraction to two (or more) genders. What this means is that it is not wholly inclusive to every gender there is. You may only be attracted to two genders, you may be attracted to all but one, but this leaves you identifying under the bisexual bracket of sexuality.

The first known use of the word ‘bisexual’ was in 1793 and used to describe something much different. It comprised of the idea that you had elements of both sexes. In today’s day and age, we refer to this as androgyny or hermaphrodites. 

Since the first use of the word, the term ‘bisexual’ has changed definition several times. It now defines attraction which relates to not just people of your own identity but also those of different gender identity. 

Bisexual pride now has pride of place on the 23rd of September and is spreading acceptance and knowledge throughout the world. This acceptance is helping people come to terms with questions such as ‘am I bi?’, and answering them with an open mind and heart.

Am I Pansexual or Bisexual? 
bisexual definition and then three people walking along

Pansexuality 

If you’re considering ‘am I pansexual?’, let’s help you define the term. Pansexuality refers to attraction to all genders. It adheres to the notion that it is not gender that poses attraction but rather individual personalities and connections. If you are pansexual, it’s not that you do not see gender but that you do not let this dictate the attraction which you may have.

The term itself, pansexual – is broken down into ‘pan’ which is the Greek term for ‘all’, and then combines this with ‘sexual’. It defines orientation which means that a person is attracted to all people, regardless of their gender or orientation. 

Historically, Sigmund Freud began discussing pansexuality in the 20th century as a view that the majority of human behaviours stemmed from sexual instincts. This has been since challenged and upturned by modern psychology and scientific research, leaving us with the more widely accepted definition we have today.

Pansexual pride has its celebratory day on the 24th of May, making pansexual dating, discussions, and acceptance more widespread. Though there is much more to know and learn about, the celebration of this day is a fantastic step in the right direction.

Am I Pansexual or Bisexual? pansexual definition and two non binary people holding hands

What Are The Similarities And Differences?

With both bisexuality and pansexuality, you display attraction to more than one gender. The amount of genders you subsequently feel romantically towards determines the difference between the two labels.

Am I Pansexual or Bisexual? similarities title and lots of different coloured and shaped leaves on the bottom

Similarities

Bisexuality and pansexuality can overlap, which is what makes it so confusing. The main similarities here are that:

At their core, both pansexuality and bisexuality refer to attraction to multiple genders. 

If you identify as having an attraction to more than one gender of people, the chances are that you may be either bisexual or pansexual. However, there are differences to the term and also differences in terms of sexuality, which you may find suits your orientation more closely.

Differences

Pansexuality is a much broader term than bisexuality.

  • Bisexuality – generally attracted to cisgender men and cisgender women (though this is not always the case)
  • Pansexuality – attracted to anyone, regardless of gender

Notions of bisexuality generally fall under the category of attraction to gender-conforming men and women. This stems largely from the use of ‘bi’ which in itself relates to two, thus two genders. However, this term has since evolved to be more encompassing of all genders but the degree of attraction may differ. Comparatively, the levels of attraction for pansexual individuals are the same, regardless of gender identification.

Pansexual Inspo

Here are some pansexual quotes to inspire you and provide some pansexual pride:

“Girls. Boys. Trans boys. Trans girls. Nonbinary babies. It’s what’s on the inside, boo.” – Madison Bailey, Outer Banks Star.

“Who I’m with has nothing to do with sex — I’m super open, pansexual, that’s just me.” – Miley Cyrus, Interview with Billboard

Cyrus has been vocal about her sexuality and continues to support and inspire with her pansexual quotes and sharing of experiences.

Am I Pansexual or Bisexual? quote from Miley Cyrus on pansexuality

“If a person is great, then a person is great. I just like good people, if your heart’s in the right place.” – Brendon Urie, Panic At The Disco, Musician.

Perhaps Another Term Fits?

There is a long way to go when it comes to acceptance of sexuality and pansexual dating within mainstream culture. But as there is more acceptance, there are now so many more encompassing gender and sexuality terms that may fit you. If perhaps pansexuality or bisexuality don’t fit, there are various other terms such as polysexuality, polyamory, and many more.   

As time goes on, we’d love to see more variety within these definitions, so that everyone can feel like they have a way to identify themselves.

Can I Identify With Multiple Terms?

Of course! Your gender identity is exactly that, yours. If you find that you fit into multiple definitions and terms, wear your sexuality proudly and identify in exactly the way that suits you. 

What Now?

If you’re asking yourself ‘am I pansexual’, then after knowing the basis of definitions, we hope you have a better idea of how you feel and where that fits. But please remember, you don’t have to define yourself! If you’d like more advice on sexuality or LGBTQ+, have a look at our website where our experts share their thoughts with you.

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