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Some people use the word pansexual to describe their attraction to more than one gender. Pansexuality is defined as an attraction to people of any gender or to people regardless of their gender, with the prefix pan- coming from the Greek prefix for “all.” Some people may use bisexual and pansexual interchangeably, and others use only one word to describe themselves. It’s a good idea to ask what words a person would like to use to describe themselves, rather than assuming.
Some argue that bisexuality reinforces the gender binary because the prefix bi- in bisexual comes from the Greek prefix for “two.” Many words that describe sexuality were originally rooted in the gender binary due to limited understandings of gender at the time by larger society. However, the historical and cultural definition of the term bisexual has always referred to more than one gender, and the current definition is not specifically binary.
Bisexuality is a sexual orientation. People who identify as bisexual have the capacity to be attracted to or form relationships with more than one gender. Bisexual people make up a significant portion of LGBTQ+ young people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, bisexual people made up 75% of young people who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. People of any gender can identify as bisexual or be attracted to more than one gender.
While all LGBTQ young people are at a higher risk of experiencing negative mental health outcomes than their heterosexual and cisgender peers, it’s worth noting that bisexual youth statistically face more challenges than lesbian and gay youth. According to The Trevor Project’s research, almost half of bisexual youth seriously considered suicide in the past year. 66% of bisexual youth reported feeling sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in a row in the past year, compared to 27% of their heterosexual peers and 49% of their gay/lesbian peers.
Labels can be a huge source of self-understanding for some LGBTQ people. Because we live in a society where everyone is assumed and expected to be straight and cisgender, finding the words to define yourself can be an act of liberation. Labels can help connect people to one another, allowing them to feel less alone and to create community together. While labels feel meaningful for some LGBTQ people, labels can feel restrictive for others. It’s OK to explore different labels or to avoid labels altogether! You are never required to label your identity in a particular way or to disclose your identity.
The Trevor Project’s 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that respondents used more than 100 different terms to label their sexuality! Identities like omnisexual, abrosexual, and skoliosexual may also describe a form of attraction to more than one gender, though these identities are not necessarily synonymous or interchangeable with the word bisexual.
How to Support Bisexual Youth - The Trevor ProjectWays to Care for Young People Who Are Attracted to More Than One Gender Download the Guide Bisexuality is a sexual orientation, and bisexual...The Trevor Project
Information sourced from The Trevor Project