PSA for Pan, Bi, and other Non-Mono People

Hey there, my multiple-gender-loving friends.  You’re all lovely people.  Keep rocking on with your bad selves.

There’s just one little request I need to make of y’all.  When you’re talking about your orientation, please avoid saying things like “hearts, not parts” or that, for you, attraction is “about the person, not the gender”.  I am a person on the asexual spectrum, and I love people regardless of gender as well… and I’m pretty sure that’s not what you’re getting at, since the reason you identify as bi, pan, or what have you, I assume, is because you have a different experience than I do as a ???romantic gray-a.

I, too, would date or fall in love with someone because of what’s in their soul, not because of what’s in their pants — but that’s just because I hate genitalia in general.  For me, it’s a perspective of hearts, not parts as well, because those kinds of “parts” don’t appeal to me in the first place.

So, while that kind of talk isn’t bad, per se, it’d be nice of you to keep in mind that it’s not a very precise way to describe the experience of feeling romantic or sexual attraction to multiple genders if it can also apply to a person of whom that is not true.

Please inform your peers of this consideration if the opportunity arises.



7 responses to “PSA for Pan, Bi, and other Non-Mono People

  • doubleinvert

    Okay, I’m pan and am a little confused. It is about the person and not their gender, partially because gender is not the same as sex. For instance, since I’m transition my sex (genitals) are “opposite” of my gender (identity). My partner divorced me because of this. Though I had the parts she wanted, my gender was wrong. What would be a better way for persons such as myself to describe my romantic and sexual orientations accurately while respecting those on the asexual spectrum?


    • acetheist

      I don’t really want to dictate how other people describe their identities — like I said, the phrasing’s not really bad, it’s just a little broader than I think most people intend for it to be — but my current understanding of bi and pansexuality is that they involve attractions happening to more than one gender category, so when I see people talking about how they’re attracted to people “regardless” of gender or how they “don’t care” what gender people are (instead of saying their attraction happens to all genders), it… sort of sounds like they don’t understand monosexuality. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t get monosexuality either, being far from mono myself, but I can tell you as an ace that… well, it’s not like when I look at a man, I start to get sexually attracted and then a little red flag goes up like “Wait! That person’s a man, and I care about that fact, so as a result I’m not going to be sexually attracted to them”. Instead, it’s more like… that feeling just doesn’t happen in the first place. I am not sexually attracted to men. And that’s not because I care about men being men (I mean, besides acknowledging that they are). It’s just not something that usually occurs, for me, in regards to anyone of that gender identity or any other.

      Like I said, I don’t think it’s my place to tell people what they should or shouldn’t say on this subject, but technically I think it makes more sense to use the aforementioned rhetoric in terms of one’s dating preferences (a conscious choice) than sexual orientation. No matter how little I care about people’s gender, that isn’t going to make them sexually attractive to me.

      Hope that made sense, to some degree. Long story short, to answer your question, “attracted to all genders” might be the best way, if you feel that’s true for you. I just think (or presume, rather) people are closer to what they intended when they emphasize what attractions happen to them rather than what factors they don’t care about.

  • kdaddy23

    You know, I see a lot people saying “hearts, not parts” and I understand what they’re saying about this, that more attention should be paid to the person and not their goodies, that the focus should be on anything other than the sex that can be had. The thing I think they’re trying to avoid is that all bisexuals don’t behave in the exact same way; some of us are about hearts, some about parts and, oh, yeah, none of the above.

    Romantically, yes – it’s about the person, what makes them special and endearing and all those other good things… but bisexuality isn’t necessarily about romance or relationships and despite what the latest buzz is trying to imply… but there are really bisexuals who aren’t comfortable about sex to begin with so the “hearts, not parts” thing can speak to their innate beliefs about sex in general; yeah, some bisexuals are actually afraid of the sex.

    There is no shame in wanting the parts because if that’s what works for you, fine. There’s no shame if love, affection, romance and relationships are the thing that floats your boat, either. It just amazes me how even bisexuals can nitpick what they are and building up walls within their bisexual box that, in my opinion, only serves to make their box smaller, not larger. We don’t like being pigeonholed… but it seems we’re more than willing to do this to ourselves.

    I know I’m not. I am bisexual and, yep, I like parts more than I like hearts when it comes to men… but I’m not opposed to being close friends with another guy because he’s a great person and not because he has a part I’d like to play with. But since I’m not of a mind to make such a distinction and hold it in front of me like a shield, it’s enough for me to say that I’m bisexual and if you wanna know just how bisexual I am, all you have to do is ask. I will never deny that I love the sex that’s possible with a guy, maybe not as much as I love it with women, but it a truth I’m comfortable with.

    I understand “hearts, not parts” but while it’s a ‘basic’ truth, it’s also a form of misdirection: Look at how I feel about someone and don’t look at the lustier parts of me.

    To Doubleinvert, I honestly don’t know the answer to your question and I admit that while I understand some stuff about transgenders – and I know someone who is – it’s pretty confusing. The best I can do is to answer your question with a question: How do YOU want to describe yourself in this? Respect is what it is – you respect a person because of who they are and what they are doesn’t really matter, does it? Respect and be respected. Once you figure out what best fits you, you stick to it and own it.

    Even in this, it’s not about parts but that subliminal feel we all give off that is at the root of attraction – this one’s a bitch to explain other than to say that most people are gender-oriented and that you not only have to look the part, you have to have that… feel that says you’re either male or female, that certain something that goes beyond mannerisms. Like the transgendered person I know? They went from male to female but to me, she still has that male vibe; I see woman, I sense man.

    And I don’t know if there’s such a person as a transgendered bisexual – if there is, I haven’t met them. Hearts, not parts, probably very much plays into the lives of the transgendered but sometimes it is about the parts; it may not be a very enlightened way to look at this specific situation but a lot of us are still learning about this and even I admit to not fully understanding it all.

    • acetheist

      “I understand “hearts, not parts” but while it’s a ‘basic’ truth, it’s also a form of misdirection: Look at how I feel about someone and don’t look at the lustier parts of me.”

      On that note… it almost seems more appropriate for biromantic asexuals, haha.

      So a couple of things here: the full word is transgender, not transgendered (the same way we say bisexual and not “bisexualed”). And yep, there are plenty of bisexuals who are trans. Trans people and cis people can have any of the same orientations.

      I hear what you’re saying about “sensing” the wrong gender, but what’s important to keep in mind is those senses can be inaccurate and need to be retrained (I have an agender friend whose contact in my phone is labeled “(they/them)” beside their name so as to help me remember) and also that no matter how hard a transition is on the cis people around them, it’s always the hardest for the trans person themselves.

      • kdaddy23

        See, there’s no such thing as not learning something new. I can’t honestly say that one’s senses can be inaccurate – how does one figure this out and is it what you see that can trick what you sense? Makes for an interesting conversation. Likewise – for the purposes of such an interesting discussion – how does one retrain their senses? I can see someone changing their thinking on this IF they knew the person they were talking to is transgender… but if they didn’t know…? In this, a lot of people trust their instincts over what their other senses are telling them – how does one go about changing this innate ability?

        Yes, your eyes can deceive you so you shouldn’t really trust them (a lot of people do, though) but that ‘gut feeling’ is something entirely different.

        Just asking. It makes me shake my head to see bisexuals kinda in denial about the sexual side of them in this – if they have one – but, again, I understand because those folks hating on bisexuals only see this side, not the parts on the inside.

        • acetheist

          “I can’t honestly say that one’s senses can be inaccurate – how does one figure this out and is it what you see that can trick what you sense? Makes for an interesting conversation. Likewise – for the purposes of such an interesting discussion – how does one retrain their senses?”

          Well, there’s not really a way to accurately assume someone’s gender from what they look like, the same way you can’t assume someone’s ideology or orientation from what they look like. Little outward cues (like certain clothes and jewelry) can help, but that’s just a matter of what they share with you. You just have to take people’s word for it.

          On the subject of adjusting how you see someone, though, I think it’s similar to how, after getting to know someone, they look different to me and sometimes have a different “vibe” to them for me. This is especially pertinent if I find out they’re much more of a scumbag than I expected and, oddly enough, they look uglier to me as a result — nothing may have changed, but it’s as though certain features have been highlighted and others muted, like adjusting the focus on a camera. And as a result, I just plain can’t see them the same way as before.

          Recently I’ve been figuring out how to do this mental-visual “adjusting” more consciously and toggle things back and forth as I look at someone, seeing them through different lenses. This can apply to a lot of cultural subcategories, and gender’s definitely one of them. Most people learn the “male” and “female” filters growing up, and with my nonbinary pals, I’m learning to create new ones just for them — it takes some focus and can get rather abstract, but it’s actually rather fun.

          So, as with anything: with practice.

          I imagine this kind of intentional mental toggling is probably easier for people who have a foot in more than one culture and, as a result, already have some practice learning to see the same sight in more than one way.

  • doubleinvert

    This comment thread has been great to read!

    It’s true that I don’t really understand being monosexual or monoromatic. I understand such persons exist; I just don’t understand being sexually or romantically attracted to one type of body or person.

    How do I want to define myself?

    I am transgender, specifically a pre-op male-to-female transsexual. Though I am legally female, my body would be considered mostly male (I have the beginnings of breasts due to hormone therapy). My sexual orientation is pansexual, and I have reason to believe that my romantic orientation is panromantic. For me, it is the person more than simply their body, regardless of what that body is: (male, female, trans, cis, intersex. abled, disabled).

    That said, I can easily separate sexual and romantic attractions. I’ve not been romantically attracted to everyone I’ve been sexually attracted to or ever everyone I’ve been sexual with.

    I don’t see it as misdirection, though I think I understand how it could be interpreted that way. And also, I’m not ashamed of the lustier parts of my person. They are a part of me, just as much as my gender identity. I’ve met people who were very attractive visually, but were such unsavory persons there was no way I could be truly attracted to them in spite of my sexual orientation. And I’ve encountered people who were not very attractive visually but I was tremendously attracted to because of their personalities.

    I guess the main objective of my initial question was to find out if there was a way I could accurately describing my orientations without erasing or dismissing anyone’s orientations (my own included).


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