By Tammy Plunkett
It’s pride month, and every year for pride month my oldest daughter changes her Facebook Header to the Pansexual flag and declares that she is Pansexual. Let’s be honest, this is a newer term that I didn’t know growing up or even a few years ago. Back in the day we only had the four L G B T letters to contend with. So, I filled my cup of tea and sat down at my computer and dove into a long overdue conversation with Sarah. I asked her, “How is Pansexual any different from identifying as Bisexual? Is the difference merely that Pansexual people are also attracted to Transgender people?”
Note: This is a conversation between mother and daughter and not a legal, sociological or textbook definition.
My daughter replied, “Bisexuals find both the masculine form and the feminine form sexually attractive, in addition to their personality and all the rest. They can also be attracted to a transgender person in whatever gender they present. A person who identifies as Pansexual is attracted to someone for everything besides their gender presentation. Of course, they can still find the masculine or feminine form beautiful but it’s not what initially attracts them to a person.”
I had to think about this for a few minutes. I have always found both the female and the male form beautiful and sexually attractive… but was I attracted to my husband because he presented as male or because of everything else about him that is not his gender?
I know of four different couples where one of the individuals transitioned and they all stayed married. Were they all just secretly bisexual, or could it be that on a deeper level they were in love with the individual way more than the first gender they had met? In one of those four couples, the then husband came out as a transgender woman after their child came out as a transgender daughter. Having our child come out as transgender raised the question in my mind. Would I stay married to my husband if he came out as transgender and became a woman? Yes, of course, I would! I love my husband for way more than the masculine gender identity he currently carries.
I replied to my daughter, “Then I’m Pansexual!”
Why is any of this important?
Bisexuals and Pansexuals face discrimination even within the LGBTQ community if people don’t take the time to understand and ask the questions I dared to ask my daughter. They hear statements like, “You’re either straight, gay or lying” and face issues of trust with statements such as, “Bisexuals are unable to make up their minds, or commit to being ‘straight’ or ‘gay’, how can we be sure they’re certain about other things?” Lastly, the most hurtful, and a statement I myself am guilty of saying in the past, “People just say they’re Pansexual to appear cool.”
We can all do better by continuing to be curious and ask appropriate questions in a non-judgmental way. The LGBTQ community truly wants us all to understand and see them for who they are, we just need to be respectful and non-threatening when we ask for clarification.
I’m looking forward to walking with the Airdrie Pride Society float on Canada Day this year, because I’m not only walking as an ally, as the mom of a transgender child, I am walking as a Pansexual too!