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Dear Minerva:

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around terminology I see all of the time. I see an increasing number of people with different gender identities and sexualities. I don’t think I am sheltered but some of it doesn’t make sense to me. Specifically, I understand what bisexual is and I understand what pansexual is. I just don’t understand why someone who is pansexual isn’t just bisexual.

—Sincerely,

Curious

Dear Curious:

If you don’t understand why someone who is pansexual wouldn’t consider themselves bisexual, then you might not have a grasp on what pansexuality is! Pansexual people are sexually attracted to people regardless of physical sex (genitalia) or gender identity. Pansexual people acknowledge that gender and sexuality is fluid. Pansexuality rejects the gender binary, making room for all identities and representations. When someone defines their sexuality as pansexual, they are saying to the world that gender doesn’t factor into their romantic and sexual relationships. Many people who identify as bisexual may also feel the same way, but without the need to specifically eschew the binary. After all, what is outlined in definition is not always what happens in practice! Sexuality is a spectrum. Bisexual and pansexual people are still commonly misunderstood and often face a lot of scrutiny and even disbelief about their sexuality, but these sexualities are valid and meaningful and deserve respect. We are all humans stuck together on this increasingly complicated planet. There are a lot of problems facing us, especially now. My hope is that we will soon realize that the enemy should never be love and that we are coming to a greater understanding of the great breadth of human relationships.

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