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ABC’s: B is for Bisexual

No, I don’t ride a bicycle. No, she’s not attracted to pans.

When I was growing up, I was told being bisexual meant you were attracted to men and women, and were probably kind of a flake. There was no talk of trans, gender fluid or agender identities, and generally no widespread belief that my sleepover friends and me were real.

Thankfully, online dictionaries have come a long way since then. Bisexuality encompasses sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and romantic attraction to people of the same and other genders (though some prefer terms like biromantic for romantic affection without sexual attraction).

But it’s got bi in there! Surely that’s subscribing to a bullshit gender binary, and we should be using pansexuality as a more inclusive term!

Well, some do. Many who identity as bi, however, recognize that pansexuality implies all genders, and an attraction irrespective of gender performance or orientation. If you’re me, you find yourself attracted to different genders in different ways, appreciate the history the bisexual movement has, and have realized that terms like gay and lesbian are often just as wedded to a fake binary as the word bisexual can be.

And as for not being real: Bisexuality and pansexuality have been observed in human societies and animals throughout recorded history. Elephants, in fact, are such notorious bisexuals that it’s surprising the Republican party still sports them as a mascot.

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Melanie Jones is a PhD student examining issues of voice and authority in the intersections of gender, race and sexuality. Once a New York journalist by way of Wisconsin, she is obsessed with comic books, historical dramas, and lime Skittles (RIP).

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