How bi and pan communities can work together

The identities don’t conflict with each other. Bi and and pan people can empower each other.


There’s a myth that somehow bi and pan communities can’t get along – but the tension is usually stirred by people who are neither bi and pan. This can stem largely from the falsehood that being bi enforces a binary and therefore being pan is trans inclusive. It wilfully and falsely ignores the actual definitions of the identities, and then seeks to cause tension between two communities who have a huge amount in common.

The actual definitions are that bi people have the potential to experience attraction (whether sexual, alterous and/or romantic) to more than one gender. Pan people have the potential to experience attraction (whether sexual, alterous and/or romantic) to people of all genders (or regardless, of gender). We also say ‘bi/pan’ as opposed to ‘bisexuality/pansexuality’ so as not to erase bi/panromantics whose sexuality may not align with their romanticism.

The false definitions that float about though cause deep divisions because many bi people can feel as though they have to assert that their identity is in no way transphobic, and pan people are essentially framed as more progressive rivals. It’s a disservice to both communities when the fact is that we have so much more in common that should unite us.

“It’s a disservice to both communities when the fact is that we have so much more in common that should unite us”

Both bi and pan people experience attraction to different genders. Both bi and pan people deal with oppression, discrimination and sometimes abuse that arises from experiencing attraction to different genders.

There can also be overlap. While pan people will experience certain issues that are specific to being pan, and the same with bi people, because of the lack of awareness about the identities, and the nuance in definition many people may switch definitions from time to time. Bi people may eventually realise they are pan, or pan people may realise they are bi.

Therefore there is real reason for the communities to work together. At Bi Pride UK, we want to create a safe space for any person who experiences attraction beyond gender, and that includes pan people. We can fight fiercely for bi rights while recognising the huge amounts we have in common. The GRSD community is so much stronger when it works together. The wound up and often sensationalised rivalry between the two communities must stop. Outside of the communities, there should be fair and accurate reporting on the distinctions between the two without making us compete.

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