Bisexuality and Pansexuality.

Because I suck at titles, I’m just going to go with that one.

I came out as bi at 14 in the middle of a family dinner.  I shouldn’t have come out that way, but I did.  We were eating dinner, and I was a freshman in high school, and I just had this secret I had been living with.  I wore the pride rainbow wristband I got at Twin Cities Pride that summer.  My gay uncle took me.  He asked me if I was an ally.  I said, everyone should be an ally.  But I hadn’t been able to say that I liked girls, and I liked boys.  This was before I knew anything about the trans* community.  This was September of 2005, and we didn’t really talk about queer issues in my house.  I didn’t see Boys Don’t Cry, my first glimpse of the transgender life, or know that it applied to me, that I was trans*, until a year later.  And when I did know, I was terrified.  But I think I’ve covered that enough, and today I don’t really want to talk about it.

Anyway, I didn’t know that there were more than two genders.  I didn’t know things like being FAAB (female assigned at birth) or that you could really be a man.  Or not.  Or both.  Or whatever your gender is.  I just knew I was a boy but I thought I was the only person like that on the planet.  Which, we know, I’m not.

But at 14 years old, I knew that bisexual meant that you were attracted to both genders, and I knew that was me.  I had started going to the support group in high school for queers.  They only had that support group my first year of high school.  But I went, and some of my friends went.   I had a crush on a girl.  She had been my really good friend for years.  She was also straight.  I was living as a female.  But anyway, I got to the point where I just felt like, I go to this support group.  I wear a pride bracelet.  So at dinner I just said, I like boys, but I like girls.

There, we’re done.  I’m out.

Not quite.

Then I got older, and I learned more about the transgender community, and pansexuality, and how bisexuality only covered the two traditional genders.  And I thought, no, I don’t care if someone is trans* or whatever, I like people and I don’t really care about their gender.  But as I came out, I realised that wasn’t right, either.  Also, the bisexuality community, I feel, has done a lot to erase that old definition.  We don’t want to be transphobic.  So now the bisexual community is being thrown under the bus.  Which we know, is pretty common.

A while back I wrote an essay on transphobia.  I could have also wrote one about the phobia I experience being attracted to more than one gender.  I hinted at it, but I could have done more.

I’ve been told things like, pick a gender. Be gay.  Or be straight. Don’t be both.

I can’t.  Just like I can’t live my life as a woman.

Believe me, things would be easier if I could.  But I’m not known for taking the easy road, and believe me, I tried being straight.  I can’t.  I also tried for twenty one years to be a woman, and we all know how well that worked out.

I think that the “fight” or argument, is probably a better term for this, between the identified bisexuals and the identified pansexuals is a fight that doesn’t really need to be happening?  I mean, all of us are attracted to more than one gender, and I think instead of fighting over a label, we should be working together. I think that being pan is under the bisexual umbrella, just like being a trans* guy is under the trans* umbrella.

As for the I don’t care about gender argument, which I am guilty of, before I was educated on myself, and on gender, and believe me, I still have a lot of education to go through, because people always evolve, I think it is flawed.

Hear me out.

I need people to care about my gender.  I need people to say Blake is a man.  For people to say that they don’t care about my gender hurts me.  Especially because I am in the early stages of my transition. I’ve only been on T for 4 months, and I have a long way to go. I have to still change my name and my gender and my birth certificate and a lot of things.  So for a potential partner to say that they don’t care, that hurts me.  And I don’t think people who say I don’t care about their gender are meaning to hurt people when they say that. I’ve said it.  I wasn’t meaning to harm anyone by saying that, but I think it did. Or it could have.

I tend to stay away from dating, but I could have really hurt someone by saying things that I’ve said.

I think my main point is, we need to stop throwing people under the bus.  Some bisexuals, I’m not going to speak for the entire community, that’s not appropriate, but some feel that the “standard” bisexual identity is transphobic, and they don’t want it to be.  They just want it to say that they are attracted to people, regardless of their gender identity.

And I don’t want to speak for pansexuals, either.  But some feel that the bisexual identity doesn’t fit them, and they like being pan.  And that is one hundred percent okay.  Because no one should tell you what you identify as, or don’t.  I’m just saying that I think the two communities should unite and be under the same umbrella so we can combat all the people that throw us under the bus.

If we could stop focusing on the “argument” between the two communities, I think we could fight it better.  Because both communities are definitely left out of the LG and sometimes T community.  And both of us, I feel, have been told, hey, pick one.  Pick a sexuality.  But we have.  We just happened to pick one you don’t think exists, or shouldn’t exist.

I’m sorry, I’ve drank a lot of coffee, and I seem to be rambling.

How about we stop throwing members of the LGBT*QIA community under the bus?  How about we stop throwing people under the bus?


7 thoughts on “Bisexuality and Pansexuality.

  1. Bi people debated this issue over 20 years ago and most “official” organizations (BiNet USA, BRC, AIB) and many of us active in the debate at that time used/are using the bi as in “gendered like me and gendered differently”. Not transphobic. It does acknowledge gender.
    Pansexuals seem to say “I don’t see gender” or “Gender doesn’t matter.” That’s fine.
    But I believe gender matters, and race matters and disabilty matters, and all those things some people say they are blind to matter, because those things are all things that make people who they are. They aren’t things that affect who I am attracted to, but they do matter.

    • That says it a lot more eloquently than I did. I’ve seen a lot of people getting flack lately on places like tumblr, for being bi, because that means 2 genders. I wanted to say that I don’t think that’s what being bi is, at least to me. I think you summed it up pretty well: gendered like me, and gendered differently. I think what people saw as transphobic, was how others labeled it, meaning men and women. When I saw that’s how it was labeled, I started labeling myself as pan. This was a few years ago. I’m not saying that it is bad to be pan, or bad to be bi. One is no better than the other. I just saw on places like tumblr, where pan people felt they were more enlightened for “not seeing gender.” I’ve gotten to the point where I just say I’m bi and to me, I know it means that it is more than being attracted to a woman, or being attracted to a man. I also don’t think someone is more enlightened for “not seeing gender.” Or race. I think that those are things that do matter. Gender identity is important. Race is important. It’s a part of a person. It doesn’t tell the whole story, but it tells a part of it.

  2. I would propose that we need to abandon the entire critical theory model that by design pits groups against one another. When we start using their language in words like biphobic and heteronormitivity we are buying into their world view of constantly looking for why we are the oppressed and the “others” are the oppressors. There is no happy ending for this approach, only perpetual warfare between ever smaller groups.
    I understand that critical theory operate like a quazi-religion and we will never “convert” the true believers, but we need not emulate their divisive tactics either. The leaders of the L-G community buy into that belief system whole heartedly, which explains why they want to throw the B community “under the bus”, they feel they must because we bisexuals are “others”, and thus the enemy.
    A better approach is the traditional liberal view that being a human is the common denominator, and we each must simply treat one another with respect because of our shared humanity, not because someone belongs to one group or another. We all must learn to live together in a mutually respectful community; and looking for “opressors” and “phobics” under every rock does not lead to that end.

  3. Interesting. It’s a given that people want to destroy that which they don’t understand, that we don’t like change, that we don’t like that which is different than us and, honestly, all this phobia stuff I’ve been reading about, while interesting, just doesn’t make any sense because a person’s value isn’t about their sexuality or gender – it’s whatever it is that makes them who they are and until people can get their heads around this rather simple concept, people will be throwing each other under buses.

    I’m bisexual and have been for a very long time so I do understand all the angst that goes on, even between people who aren’t straight. I understand it… but I just think it’s a stupid way to behave.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I’ve been strugglign with the whole issue myself recently after having some unsatisfactory debates with a number of people from the transgendered community. Terminology can, unfortunately, be very loaded and it’s crazy that the use of a word or two can lead to such animosity. I’m for letting people understand their own ideology as they chose, so long as they appreciate the right of another to have theirs. Anyway, funnily enough I’ve blogged a little about how I felt on this same bisexuality vs pansexuality issue here..

    • I just checked out your post, and I thought it was very interesting and you had a lot of great points. However, I’m not sure if you are aware, but it isn’t transgendered, it’s transgender. Just thought I would let you know.

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