Bisexual vs pansexual: Similarities and Differences

Author :- Angel Russell Jan. 31, 2022, noon
Bisexual vs pansexual: Similarities and Differences

Sexual orientation language is fluid and impacted by factors such as where you live, how old you are, and other identities that belong to you. Bisexual and Pansexual are sexual orientation words that have similar meanings, which can be confusing for some. Because these terms are similar to each other, some folks use them interchangeably. The differences between these words are, however, very important to others.

 I’ll do my best to define them using the definitions that are most widely used, but I understand that not everyone uses these terms the way I’ll describe them here. What’s most important to remember about sexual orientation labels, is that self-definition and self-determination take priority. What these words mean to the individual people using them is way more important that what anyone else has to say about it. The best way to understand what someone means when they tell you they’re “bi” or “pan” is to ask them what that means to them! That being said, let’s take a look at what’s commonly meant by these terms.



Bisexuality activist Robyn Ochs provides this definition of bisexual: “The potential to be attracted … to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree. For me, the bi in bisexual refers to the potential for attraction to people with genders similar to and different from my own.”

So, when you think “bisexual” think “attraction to two or more genders”. Gender is a factor in the way many bisexual people are attracted to others.



Pansexuality is similar to bisexuality in that it refers to the potential to be attracted to a broad range of people. It’s different in that, where bisexuality language centers the gender of those you’re attracted to, pansexuality is attraction regardless of gender. Pansexual means the potential to be attracted to all kinds of people and their gender doesn’t really matter. Gender is not a factor in the way many pansexual people are attracted to others.


Sometimes the group of labels that refers to gender-diverse and gender-expansive attraction is generally referred to as Bi+. The + encompasses the many ways people can be attracted to multiple genders and the many labels used by people who experience attraction this way.

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