Nonbinary Life

Nonbinary vs Bisexual: What Exactly is the Difference?

What is the difference between nonbinary vs bisexual? Some people are nonbinary, some people are bisexual, and some people (like me) are both!

In this post, I’ll explain all about what nonbinary vs bisexual really means.

Nonbinary vs Bisexual: What Exactly is the Difference?

Hi, I’m Rey, a nonbinary writer! Please subscribe for more stories and resources:

Nonbinary is a Gender Identity

A gender identity, like “nonbinary,” is a way to describe what gender we are. “Woman” and “man” are other examples of gender identities. When someone says she is a woman, for example, usually that is not the same as saying who she’s attracted to. Women can be attracted to men, women, and/or people with other genders. Men can be attracted to men, women, and/or people with other genders. Their attraction doesn’t define them as a woman or man.

Photo of a dark skinned person, close up on their hands clasped together, with a rainbow ribbon wrapped around one hand and wrist

Similarly, nonbinary people can be attracted to men, women, and/or people with other genders. That’s not what makes them nonbinary.

Also, some folks don’t experience attraction to anyone, and that’s okay too!

I’m presenting this from my own perspective in the way I’ve tried to explain the way I think about gender and sexuality to my family and friends. But mine is far from the only perspective. Many cultures have traditional identities which describe both people’s gender and who they are attracted to. It is perhaps a more Western perspective to separate gender and sexuality but far from the only way to think about and describe people. “Nonbinary,” however, is not generally used to describe sexuality.

So what defines a person’s gender, if not who they’re attracted to?

The frustratingly simple answer is that many people just know what gender they are. “I’m just a man, obviously.” etc. Consider your own gender, for a minute. Is it obvious to you what your gender is? It may be just as obvious to someone who is trans or nonbinary. On the other hand, many people take a long time to figure out what their gender is, if it’s different than what the world has been telling them.

People’s gender expression can be closely tied to their gender identity. The clothes people wear, the way they speak, their pronouns (such as they/them, he/him, or she/her), their bodies, and their interests and activities can all be influenced by gender identity.

But what if we need to describe who someone is attracted to? “Bisexual” is one word to describe attraction.

Bisexual is a Sexual Orientation

“Bisexual” refers to who you are attracted to, without defining who you are.

My favorite inclusive way to define bisexual is: you are attracted to people of your own gender and other genders. For example: If you are a man who is attracted to men and women, you might describe yourself as bisexual. Or, if you are a nonbinary person who is attracted to nonbinary people and men, you might describe yourself as bisexual. Or, if you are a woman who is attracted to men, women, and people of other genders, you might describe yourself as bisexual.

Person with light skin and black curly hair holding a small rainbow flag in front of them

The word “bisexual” has a long history—it’s the “B” in LGBTQ! Back in 1990, activists wrote The Bisexual Manifesto to debunk some myths about bisexuality not being inclusive:

“Bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity. Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or dougamous in nature; that we must have “two” sides or that we MUST be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders. Do not mistake our fluidity for confusion, irresponsibility, or an inability to commit. Do not equate promiscuity, infidelity, or unsafe sexual behavior with bisexuality. Those are human traits that cross ALL sexual orientations. Nothing should be assumed about anyone’s sexuality—including your own.”

– The Bisexual Manifesto (1990)

People of all genders can be bisexual, including nonbinary people. But being bisexual doesn’t mean you have a particular gender (or are attracted to a particular gender)!

Nonbinary vs Bisexual: More Info

I hope this post has helped clarify the difference between nonbinary vs bisexual. For more great info on being nonbinary or bisexual, please check out:

Is Everyone a Little Bit Nonbinary (and Bisexual and Autistic)?

Nonbinary Meaning: Not a Man or Woman

Debunking Bisexual Myths: We Are Actually Reasonable People

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