19 November 2004

I don't quite fit in. Can you help me!

I’ve known that I’ve been different since I was a kid, but now I can’t figure out what I am. I don’t fit into lesbian or any other tables. In my recent browsing of the internet, I found the term ‘pansexual.’ This, so far, is the closest thing I can find to describe my sexual orientation. This doesn’t quite fit, either, for I find myself attracted to mostly females and everything else in between, more than males. I don’t feel like I should be a female, but being male isn’t right for me either. Any ideas? – Alanna

Équipe -Pose ta question!-

Dear Alanna,

Thanks for your question! You seem to be grappling with a few different issues (sexuality, gender identity, and labelling), and I’ll try to respond to each of them.

As I’m sure you know, there is a difference between one’s sexuality (who you are attracted to) and one’s gender identity (the gender you feel you are, whether or not it matches the gender you were assigned at birth). For many people who are questioning or examining their gender identity, it can be difficult to pinpoint sexuality. Often, as people figure out their gender identity, their sexual orientation seems to change. Part of this is due to labels and the rigid “boxes” (or tables as you called them) people are supposed to fit into.

Pansexual is a wonderfully fluid label, that doesn’t come with a box. Pansexual is usually defined as someone who is attracted to a spectrum of genders, acknowledging that there are more than two (male and female) genders. It does not mean one has to have equal attraction to everyone on the gender spectrum. Since you said that you are attracted “mostly to females and everything else in between, more than males,” pansexual could very well be your label, if you choose it. And “choice” is key with labels. You get to decide what adjectives are used to describe you. You also have the choice to shrug off labels all together. It’s your call. A lot of people who don’t know which label fits, and don’t want to be tightly defined, also use the term “queer” as it is an umbrella term, all encompassing, of everyone who isn’t 100% heterosexual.

As for gender… There are an increasing number of people who are defining themselves as outside the “two” genders. Sometimes people choose to transition medically, socially, legally, or not at all. Other people choose to live somewhere in between genders, or embracing both/multiple genders. These people are sometimes referred to as “genderqueer,” but there are almost as many “alternate gender” labels as there are people who identify this way! (Other labels for assigned female at birth people include transdyke, trannyboy, boi, bigendered, omnigendered, pangendered…)

I’m not sure where you live in BC, but there are a lot of resources for queer and questioning youth on the west coast.

Good luck, and I hope this helps!