Perhaps I’ll start with the story of how I came to identify myself as bisexual in the first place. It was kind of dumb, actually. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking it through, or trying to understand myself. I didn’t do any soul searching. There was absolutely no discussion with myself at all. It just sort of…happened. Let me explain. When I was in 7th Grade Myspace was a big thing, and one of those posts was going around where if you comment on it you were sent a giant list of random sentences from the OP (original poster) and told you had to put one as your status. Well, that happened to me. I got sent the long list. I looked through it super briefly and decided randomly to put my status as “Just because I’m bisexual doesn’t mean I like everybody.” Or something to that effect.
I didn’t realize it at that moment, but I was unintentionally paving the way for an alteration in my identity. The very next day at school I had a group of classmates approach me, and somewhat shyly and awkwardly they asked me “Are you really bisexual?” And it hit me all of a sudden. I hadn’t posted it because I thought I was. I hadn’t even really thought about the concept of sexuality up until that point. But the second it was staring me in the face it just kind of clicked. And I was like “Yeah. Yeah I am.” Suddenly being flooded with a mountain of memories that backed up my statement. Yeah, I really was bisexual. Huh.
From that day forward I wore it as almost a badge of honor. Guess what? That’s right! I’m bisexual! I thought it made me seem really cool, almost exotic, because I was able to be so open while others were so closed off and unsure of themselves. I was bold. I was daring. I openly dated, made out with, and expressed love towards both boys and girls. It felt somewhat dreamy. It even made me feel weirdly superior, like I held this knowledge that so many couldn’t seem to attain. I remember outwitting my Health Professor in high school, basically running the discussion about bisexuality, because he didn’t seem to know much about what it even meant. I debunked the myth that it meant you were attracted to boys and girls separately, one after the other, like you were flip-flopping between being straight and gay. I proudly stated that just like anybody else, you could be crushing on multiple people at one time, both boys and girls (it didn’t have to be all girls or all boys at one time).
Being bisexual brought me a sense of confidence and identity that shaped me into the person I am today. And I am forever grateful to those wide-eyed classmates of mine back in 7th Grade who eagerly wanted to know the answer to the question, “Are you really bisexual?” They changed my reality in ways I couldn’t have possibly dreamed of. My title as bisexual served me well. But for the past 7 or so years I have been flying under a different identity, waving a different banner, standing strong under a different flag. And it isn’t because I despise my bisexual past, or the identity of being bisexual. It was just time for me to move on to a new phase of understanding in my life, which came to light when I learned about the concept of gender.
The Topic of Gender
Up until college I hadn’t even considered gender as a topic, definitely not an issue to be passionately discussed in politics. Sure, sometimes I felt different than other girls/women. Okay, most of the time I felt different. But I didn’t really think too much about it. I didn’t want to feel different in a way I couldn’t explain to myself, so I just sort of shoved it under the rug. Then I got to college and I took a class on sexuality. A lot of the information was nothing new to me, but a portion of discussion sparked something in me. When the concept of gender was brought up I had a sort of epiphany. Non-binary identity was discussed and I was suddenly in awe. I had never even considered something like that before.
After that I got very into the concept of there being a spectrum of identity when it came to gender, which later lead me to the concept of fluidity. I now realized that everything I had based my assumptions about myself on were very narrowed views of a somewhat skewed reality. I wasn’t who I had been raised to think I was. I couldn’t be neatly defined by what other people wanted to define me by. I didn’t fit neatly into boxes or stereotypes. I WAS different. And different was okay. Everybody was their own form of unique. Diversity suddenly became the most beautiful thing in the world to me.
That’s when I started to realize how limiting a lot of labels were. How ignorant a lot of perspectives being pushed on me were. How uncompassionate a lot of people who were spouting the ‘right’ way to be, or do things, were. Through no fault of their own necessarily. Their experiences defined them, created who they were. But I now realized that it wasn’t JUST experiences that made a person. It was how we reacted to those experiences. How we internalized those experiences. We can’t control the past, or other people, but we have complete control over the way in which we shape our own realities. So I started moving away from things, and people, and terms that made me feel like I was narrowing myself in any way. I wanted to be as open as I possibly could to new information and new ideas. I wanted my love, life, and learning experiences to be fluid and free.
Here comes my dispelling of the term bisexual. I found a new term: pansexual. It symbolized everything I wanted for myself. Everything I wanted to say. It reflected how I felt I wanted to represent myself to the world. And so I switched over. I was no longer bisexual (stuck on a binary, loving only two definitive types of individuals). I was now pansexual (allowing myself to feel and care for any and all individuals no matter how they identified, how they saw themselves, how society saw them, etc.). Bisexuality, for me, became part of the exact thing I was trying to disengage myself from – the condensing of people’s identities into simplistic, unrealistic boxes that shamed anyone who dared take a step outside of them.
I’ve heard many times people say that those who are bisexual have simply changed the definition of this term as they became aware of the fluidity in gender. And that’s perfectly fine. Everyone has a right to label themselves however they so choose. However, me, being the English freak that I always have been, see the word very literally. The pre-fix “bi” literally translates to 2. It’s the reason your bicycle is a bicycle (with 2 wheels), opposed to a tricycle (with 3). It equates gender to a binary, and thus defines those under its use as loving only 2 sets of people (men and women, OR males and females…depending on if you choose partners by gender or sex). Now, there is nothing wrong with not being attracted to people of other genders. I wouldn’t be offended if a straight woman wasn’t attracted to me or didn’t want to date me. She’s only into cis men. That’s cool.
As much as trans-shaming is an issue. I do believe that bisexuality can also save a space for people who aren’t okay with dating trans individuals. You don’t have to be transphobic to simply not want to date someone who is trans. Not wanting to date anyone, for any reason, is perfectly okay. And to me bisexuality is a term for cis-gender individuals who are attracted to other cis-gender individuals. And I welcome that as a concept. I’m not offended by it. I believe that cis-gender individuals should definitely have their own space, if they want it. As long as they don’t exclude trans individuals from spaces in which everyone should be able to co-exist. Transphobia is not okay!
You Do You
Ultimately, I have no control over who does or doesn’t use a term. I don’t get to decide what the meaning of something is for someone. Everybody gets to decide these things for themself. Just as I am able to define myself with my own chosen terms, and I am able to define my chosen terms in the ways I want, everyone else has the same freedom to do so. No one can tell you who you are or who you aren’t. That is only for you to decide! But for me, bisexuality and I have taken a permanent break. Farewell my beloved term, you have served me well. I’m not turning back now. Nope – bisexuality is not for me. Unless I find a more freeing term to express the way I feel inside, I am pansexual. And proud of it.
*I’d like to make it very clear that I am in no way shaming anyone for their choice in terminology. I accept everyone’s decision to label themselves in the way they feel best fits their identity. This is a personal opinion and reflects only my own views and the way in which I conduct my own identification, thus has no implications on anyone else who chooses differently.