No, Pansexuality Isn't The Same As Bisexuality

Photo credit: Carmen Valdes - Getty Images
From women's health
Caroline Rose Giuliani has just become open about her love life. Caroline, the daughter of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, wrote an essay for Vanity Fair on the "unicorn" in relationships (i.e., a third partner for couples looking for a threesome).
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As part of the essay, Caroline describes her own journey to discovering her sexuality. "I had known for some time that I was at least bisexual, but had barely explored that side of my sexuality," she wrote.
At one point, she describes how her experience as a unicorn in a couple's relationship helped her discover her sexual identity. "A few weeks after our threesome, I texted her with Isabella and told her that Oliver's passion for her permeated me," she wrote. “My increased reaction to their energetic flow also set me on the way to identify as pansexual, which feels more precise than bisexuality. I am attracted to people who, because of their presence and energy, live regardless of their biological gender, gender or gender identity. "
While the two terms can be confused, pansexuality is different from bisexuality.
Bisexual is a term used in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to describe a person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to more than one gender, gender, or gender identity. "Pansexual" is used to describe a person who can be emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to people of any gender, says HRC.
"Pan comes from the Greek word 'everyone,'" says Holly Richmond, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist and marriage and family counselor. "Pansexual is not bisexual, it's all sexual." That means a pansexual person could be attracted to a man, woman, transgender person, or non-gendered person (a person who does not identify by gender), Richmond says.
Caroline is nowhere near the only notable person who identifies as pansexual. Janelle Monáe and Miley Cyrus have also said that they identify with pansexuality.
Below, experts offer all the other important information you should know about it.
1. It's a real thing.
"There are many stereotypes and misconceptions about pansexuality, and one of the most popular is that pansexuality does not exist or is not a 'real' sexual identity. This is absolutely wrong," says Corey Flanders, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Psychology and Education at Mount Holyoke College. When a pansexual's sexual identity is denied by others or prevented from accepting their own identity, it can stifle them to some degree, she says.
2. It is not uncommon for people once identified as bisexual to become pansexual.
Like Miley and Janelle, some people who identified as bisexual earlier later identify as pansexual. "Bisexuality as a term has been criticized for adhering to a binary gender system known as 'I am attracted to men and women,' although that strict definition of bisexuality does not suit many bisexually identified individuals," says Rena McDaniel, the one Has a master's degree in counseling specializing in gender and sexual identity.
Pansexuality, on the other hand, is seen as "more inclusive" for people who are transgender or identify outside of the gender binary number of men or women, she says.
3. Younger generations are more likely to identify as pansexual.
There seems to be an age difference with this label. "Younger people are more likely to use pansexual as a term, while older populations are more likely to use bisexual," says McDaniel.
4. Pansexuality does not mean promiscuity.
Pansexuals may be attracted to all people, but that doesn't mean they're going to have sex with anyone, Richmond says. "Pansexuals can be very picky," she says.
5. Pansexuals want relationships too.
"One of the ways that society shames those who care about more than one gender is to say that they are" greedy "or" dedicated "," says McDaniel. "Nobody says this, however, about straight people, who also have about half the world's population to choose from."
Being attracted to more people has nothing to do with the type of relationship a person wants with their partner or partners, she adds.
6. The term pansexuality has only recently emerged.
Richmond says she started learning about pansexuality five or six years ago at a conference for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. Although pansexual people have definitely been around for a while, the general public is just beginning to recognize the term and learn what that sexual identity means.
7. Pansexuality has nothing to do with gender.
People often confuse gender identity and sexual identity, but they are not the same. "Pansexuality is a term that refers to the sexual orientation that someone is attracted to," says McDaniel. "It's completely different from gender identity, which is how someone identifies their own gender."
So pansexuality is not the same as transgender or non-binary gender. Using pansexual as a label for your sexual orientation says nothing about your gender identity or the gender identity of the person you fall in love with, she says.
8. Less than 1 percent of the population identifies as pansexual.
Since pansexuality is a fairly new concept to many people, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly how many identify with the label, explains Richmond. She puts her best guess at less than 1 percent. But the more people become aware of pansexuality, the more people identify themselves that way, she says.
9. Pansexuality is not just about sex.
When pansexuals make a romantic connection, it's very much about connecting with the person - not the gender, says Richmond. "It's about building meaningful relationships."
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