Your Purity Does Not Concern Me: So What If The Definition of Bi is the Same as Your Definition of Pan.

In the last few years the bisexual community (edited especially on tumblr)has been working to root out transphobia  and cissexism from our community. (edited: though the communit has defined itself in trans inclusive ways since the very begining. See the “Bisexual Manifesto” available on BiNet USA’s site. H/T to Camille of The Bisexual Organizing Project for reminding me of this fact)One way we have done this is by working to use non cissexist and non transphobic definitions of our sexuality. Definitions such as ” the romantic/sexual attraction to genders similar and different from your own” or as ” attraction to more then one gender”. These definitions are what most bisexual organizations use and what most bisexual activists and writers are now using.We have been going out into the wider LGBTA world with it, contacting organizations to have them change from the cissexist definition of “men and women” or of ” both genders”
As I have mentioned before the only definition that should count is the one that is generated and used by the community.
I have in the course of my activism come across a interesting and worrying phenomenon.
Recently on tumblr user gohomebiphobia posted this definition of bisexuality. It is 100% how the modern bisexual movement conceptualizes bisexuality. It is an amazing informative post.
Sadly it has received back lash, not from straight bigots but from other LGT people and most worrying from other non monosexuals, especially pansexuals.
This has come in the form of really horrible identity policing and gohomebiphobia and other bisexuals being told that they are not allowed to define their sexuality or that pansexuals/omnisexuals know more about bisexuality then actual bisexual people.
At other times this backlash has taken on the form of cis pansexuals/other non monosexuals talking down to or over trans* people ( like me) to prove the bisexual communities definition “wrong”. I’ve also seen people engage in gross tokenisim of trans* people by these people.

The real important thing is this:
so what if the the definitions are the same or extremely similar? Why would that be a problem?

If I go over here and make a definition and call it Bi and someone goes over there and makes a definition and calls it pan but the definitions are the same similar then what is the problem? As long as the two do not really on things like transphobia ,misogyny or the negation of the other ( example definitions of pansexuality or omnisexuality that rely on a negation of bisexuality or the need to forcibly define bisexuality back into cissexist terms ) then it should be fine.
Both describe the same thing, non monosexual desire.

People who show up on posts like gohomebiphobias screaming about how the definition is wrong because it is to similar to pansexual need to sit and think about why that is a problem.

I guarantee that behind these peoples desperate need for the definition to not be similar is ideas of biphobia and purity.Many people who eschew the label Bi do so because of ” the stigma of being Bi” so they use a different term for their non monosexual attraction. By having the non cissexist definition of Bi becoming more and more popular and accepted it in cringes on the purity Bi stigma free zone they have tried to create.

But part of this stigma is that bisexuality is inherently binary or transphobic.These accusations are often couched in nice sounding social justice language so for the longest time it was considered a legitimate reason. But as Bi activists challenge and change that the only reasons left will become increasingly biphobic.

But your need for purity, for a Bi free zone, the need to have a sexuality that you can crap on to make yourself look good does not concern me.

Actively working towards an end to cissexism and transphobia does. And as pan/omnie/polysexuals claim they want to help end these things so they don’t use Bi.

One way to help would be to help propagate the inclusive definition.Instead they resist and fight. Simply playing around with Latin and Greek prefixes is not enough to make you a trans* ally. If you want to be one you need to support communities that are actively trying to fix transphobia and cissexism like what the bisexual community is doing now.
The only reason not to support this effort is through a need to keep distance and “purity” from contamination from being associated with bisexuality in any way.Biphobia.

So if you are pansexual,polysexual,multisexual or any other non-monosexuality and when you come across the same/other genders definition or the more then one gender one and your immediate response is to shout ” no it’s not!” And then try and derail or otherwise try and stop that definition in favor of a cissexist one then you need to stop and examine why this is and your commitment to trans* issues.

Odds are you have some biphobia to work on



Filed under LGBT Writing

11 responses to “Your Purity Does Not Concern Me: So What If The Definition of Bi is the Same as Your Definition of Pan.

  1. Loved this post and referred to it in my column today:

    ❤ Tiggy

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  3. Just to be clear, the bi community has a long history of defining itself in a trans inclusive way. See the 1990 Bisexual Manifesto as an example:

  4. So, let’s discuss this year old piece since Patrick made it current again:
    This winter, there was a big blow up in the twitter feminism war. Basically, Sarah Silberman hosted a “Night of a 1000 Vaginias” in CA to fundraise for the choice fight in TX (Wendy Davis and all). The criticism from the radicals was that the title of the event was transphobic because some women don’t have vaginias. So, activists used trans people without their permission. The other thing totally missing from the radicals twitter war is that some trans people do have vaginias. Some need OB/GYN exams…
    I do see a connection here. In our world, pans use trans people to attack bisexuals. Above, the race/class divisions among feminists used trans people to attack establishment feminists. I try to look at all sides as a fence sitting Libra. I do know that our bisexual community has put monogamy over polyamory, cisgender over the trans spectrum, and has left out the BDSM communities over the years to make a binormative white picket fence version of our community the face. I lived through some of this. The NYT didn’t help us with a normative magazine piece.
    So, some of what the pansexuals are fighting isn’t the actual bisexual communities but a representation from few of us and the media. Just like the anger of the excluded feminists, I see we just have to direct pan anger more proactively. Its so wrong to use trans communities as a whip. But trans people have to be the ones to call that first. Your piece is a good start. So ty.

    • Rysler

      Is it sexual harassment or heteronormativity if I want to marry this comment? Probably Have seen “the concept of trans people” used to troll feminist or LGBTQA communities that trans people actively participate in, just for one-upsmanship. So frustrating and destructive. So complicated. I’m not a Libra, but a librarian researcher, and studies show normalization helps NO ONE. Not even the “normals.” It’s, as you say, a false flag.

      Are you here in NC? Couldn’t help but see your blog on HB2.

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