There is ongoing dispute in queer circles over the definition of bisexuality, and its supposed disconnect with pansexuality. The great “pan-vs-bi” debate is a fairly recent phenomenon, and people of this school of thought seek to discredit bisexuality as transphobic by drawing attention away from the history of the bisexual movement and instead scrutinizing the word’s etymology, which itself is a red herring.
I have therefore compiled a summary of the terms in question, based on widespread conventions within the bisexual community.
- bisexual - the intrinsic capacity for romantic and/or sexual attractions primarily to more than one gender (contrast with “monosexual”)
- monosexual - the intrinsic capacity for romantic and/or sexual attractions primarily to one gender (contrast with “bisexual”)
- pansexual - bisexual identity connoting the instrinsic capacity for romantic and/or sexual attractions to any gender
- omnisexual - see “pansexual”
- polysexual - see “bisexual”
It is a myth that bisexuality is mutually exclusive of pansexuality. It is a myth that bisexuality reinforces a gender dichotomy. It is a myth that bisexual people are inherently transphobic. It is a myth that bisexual people are attracted only to cismen and ciswomen.
Most of these stereotypes are, unfortunately, promulgated by pansexual people who claim to “know better” than their bisexual-identified peers. Such internal rivalry is counterproductive and does nothing whatsoever to further the cause. Bisexuality has been trans* inclusive for decades, and there is NO research to substantiate that all bisexual people seek exclusively cisgender partners. By some estimates, about 1/3 of bisexual activists are themselves transgender or gender-nonconforming.
The bisexual movement itself evolved in tandem with the transgender movement and the two communities worked hand in hand for over 30 years. Many reputable bisexual activists self-identify as trans* or are transgender advocates. So it would be disingenuous for them to denounce bisexuality as conflicting with the tenets of transgenderism.
The Bisexual Manifesto, published in 1990, was a collaborative project of the bisexual community. It reaffirms the widely-held values of bisexuality, all of which still apply to this day:
In addition, numerous highly-respected online resources corroborate the non-binarist, non-cissexist definition of bisexuality:
Bisexual Resource Center
Radical Bi Blog
Toronto Bisexual Network
The Bisexual Index
Wipe Out Biphobipa
Thus, the “bisexual” identity includes any and all people with sexual or romantic attractions beyond a single gender, including pansexuality. Anybody who disputes this fact, is either biphobic, monosexist, or in denial of the history of the bisexual movement.