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What Does It Mean to be Pangender

Gender identity has grown a lot over the last few years. Approaches to gender have become vast and unique, some not even submitting to the idea of gender itself. The gender binary that society imposes on us is now being contradicted and challenged, being just male or female does not encompass the rainbow of the gender spectrum. 

Pangender individuals fall under the non-binary umbrella and oppose said binary. Someone who is pangender identifies with an infinite amount of gender identities that they either fluctuate between or consider as one all-encompassing, multifaceted gender. 

In this article, we’ll delve into what it means to be pangender and how one might explore this identity. We will also look into ways to bring awareness and visibility to the pangender community. 

Who is pangender?

The most critical thing to know about being pangender is that there are many ways to approach this identity. For example, there might be different intensities regarding the genders a pangender person identifies with. Pangender people identify with all genders, but some might feel more attached to one or a couple of genders. It is also important to discuss that pangender people can only identify with all genders encompassed within their culture and life experiences. A pangender person who is not Native American cannot identify with the Twin-Spirit identity and a pangender person who does not have Borderline Personality Disorder cannot identify as bordergender. 

Being pangender does not mean that an individual knows about every existing gender, it means that they want their identity to encompass countless genders. The idea of infinity comes into play a lot when talking about the pangender community, the notion that there are an infinite amount of genders and we can be all of them at once is the foundation of this identity. The only rule when it comes to being pangender is that you don’t claim culturally-specific and neurotype-specific genders if they don’t apply to you.

Like any gender identity we are bringing awareness to, there are misconceptions. First we must understand that although the pangender identity falls under the polygender umbrella they are not the same thing. Polygender means to identify with two or more genders, therefore someone who is polygender could have a finite number of identities whereas pangender people have an infinite amount of gender identities they identify with. Always remember that looks, pronouns, and names do not define a person’s identity and a pangender person doesn’t look a certain way, the only way to know someone’s identity is to ask them. 

Where does the word “pangender” come from?

Although pangender people have existed throughout all of history, the actual word came into play in the 1990s. In the preface of the book The Flock, written in 1992 by Lynn Wilson the word pangender appears in a quote: “Some gender-nonconforming individuals call themselves androgynes, pan-gender, or nonbinary.”

Much of the growth regarding the word was due to the popularity of the nonbinary movement that helped normalize and bring awareness to the pangender community. In 2006 the word was added to Urban Dictionary and later in 2013 it was listed as one of the many growing non-binary identities in the text “Sexuality and Gender for Mental Health Professionals: A Practical Guide.”

One of the major breakthroughs of the word pangender happened in 2015 when the Tumblr blog “Pangendering” was created. A place where many resources on gender-related topics surfaced and where the word pangender could be easily defined and understood. Another huge moment came in 2018 when Washington state began to allow “X” gender markers on official documents further allowing pangender and other non-binary identities to comfortably fill out the gender portion of documents. Social media platforms have since become the biggest aid in popularizing and defining what it means to be pangender. 

Other ways to say pangender

Although the word pangender is the most common word used to identify individuals with all-encompassing genders, many people use the terms below synonymously. Here are some examples: 

  • Multigender
  • Polygender (an umbrella term)
  • Omnigender

New words and identities are created every day. Labels and terms carry connotations whether that be bad or good, which is why one might identify with one term over the other even if they mean the same thing to someone else. 

Is this identity for you?

Although you are the only person who can choose your identity it might be confusing at first. The LGBTQ+ spectrum is huge and there is a place for everyone although at first it may be hard to find out where that place is. If you resonated with some of the thoughts above and believe you might be pangender we have included some thoughts to ponder on that may help you understand your identity a little better:

Do you strongly identify with the gender you were assigned at birth?

If you feel like the gender you were assigned at birth suits you perfectly and you feel zero dysphoria regarding this, you might not be pangender. However, there are many pangender individuals who have varied intensities towards the gender identities that make up who they are. If you feel like the gender you were assigned at birth suits you, but you also feel like your gender identity expands past that and might include others you might want to think about reading about the polygender spectrum and where you might fit in. 

Do you feel like you identify with all genders within your own culture and life experiences?

If the idea of infinite genders makes your heart sing and all genders seem to fit you, you are most likely pangender. A pangender individual is every gender that is possible for them to be, they encompass the entire gender spectrum. 

Do you identify with almost but not all genders?

If you feel like almost every gender fits you, but some of them aren’t quite right you are most likely not pangender. It can be confusing to feel like almost every gender fits, but there are some that just don’t work for you. But don’t worry! There is an identity for you and it is called omnigender. Sometimes omnigender can be used synonymously with pangender, but other times it is differentiated by the idea that they are not ambivalent about their gender unlike pangender individuals.  

Pangender people in the media

If you are still confused or need to see the pangender identity in action, finding some good pangender media is a great way to inform yourself. Whether you identify as pangender or you are trying to learn more about what it means and entails, it is important to be well versed in a diverse selection of media that features characters that are both like us and different from us. 

Here are some popular examples of pangender individuals in the media to follow and keep up with:

  • Adsila Waters: Adsila is a pangender character in the sci-fi thriller novel “Zero-G: Book 1” by William Shatner and Jeff Rovin.
  • Jules: Although Jules is not pangender, he is gender nonconforming, but still brings a lot to the gender table. Jules has a Taiwanese immigrant mother who struggles with his choices in the 2019 short film, Bind. 

As you can see our list is very short, there are not that many canon pangender characters at all. This just means we need to bring more awareness and visibility to the pangender community in order to grow the list. Our culture page is a great place to look for more content related to LGBTQ+ identities and the incredible people who embody them.

The pangender flag

The pangender flag is based on the agender pride flag and was first proposed by Cari Rez Lobo in 2015 on Tumblr. The bright colors featured are meant to represent the variety that comes with gender. The colors mean as follows:

  • Yellow: Represents all genders that aren’t connected to female and male.
  • Light red: The transition between the female and male genders.
  • Light violet/pink: Denotes female and male.
  • White: represents the union of all genders.

Embracing identity diversity is critical

The LGBTQ+ spectrum is ever-expanding and colorful. At first it might seem daunting: where do you fit? And how do you connect? The amazing part is that the communities within this brilliant acronym are welcoming and understanding. If you feel as though you might be pangender you have a loving community waiting to embrace you.

Understanding and learning about a variety of identities is critical. Whether it’s an identity you closely relate to or one that you don’t identify with at all it is important to learn about them and help bring awareness. 

If some of the ideas above resonate with you and you’re thinking of coming out, make sure the conditions are safe and have a plan of action regarding housing and food if things don’t go as planned. 

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