WTF Is The Difference Between Pansexual & Polysexual?

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Gender is a lot more complex than you think.

Before people were more aware of the different permutations of gender identity, there wasn't a label for pansexuals and polysexuals. Now that there is, there's still a lot of confusion between polysexual vs pansexual identities. What's the distinction?

Here are 6 things you need to remember to understand the difference between polysexual vs pansexual people.

1. Gender and sex are two different things.

WTF Is The Difference Between Pansexual & Polysexual?

The confusion between polysexual vs pansexual labels lies in the misconception that there are only two genders/sexes. There is, in fact, quite a variety. And gender and sex are two different things.

Sex is a biological concept based on physical characteristics like chromosomes, as well as internal and external sex organs.

Gender, on the other hand, is a social construct based on personal and cultural perceptions of society. According to the World Health Organisation, gender refers to "the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles and relationships of and between groups of women and men."

2. Sex is a lot more complex than you think.

Most of us were taught that people are only either male or female. But sex isn't as simple as that. Why? There's a whole grey area between male and female. This binary thinking doesn't account for intersex people — or people who have both male and female characteristics.

(To read more about intersex people, read this article: What Does "Intersex" Mean? These 5 Women Were Born BOTH Male And Female!)

3. There are multiple genders.

The LGBT acronym doesn't even begin to cover all of the genders in the world. Gender consists on physical, personality, and preferences, which are further broken down into male, female, and androgynous. According to aPATH, there are 63 genders!

4. Pansexuality is the attraction to people of all genders or sexes.

Pansexuals are attracted to people regardless of their gender or sex. Essentially, they don't care about someone's gender — this doesn't factor into their attraction.

5. Polysexuality is the attraction to many genders or sexes — but not necessarily all.

A polysexual, on the other hand, could be attracted to men and transsexuals, but not to cissexual women. They're attracted to multiple genders, but not all. That's what spells the difference between polysexual vs pansexual people.

6. Polysexuality is not the same as polyamory.

Don't confuse polysexuals with polyamorous people. They're two completely different things.

Polyamorous people enjoy being intimately involved with multiple people. You can be straight, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, etc. and be polyamorous. If you desire romantic relationships with more than one person, you're polyamorous.

Does that clear up the difference between polysexual vs pansexual? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Written by

Marga Guangzon