What is pansexuality?
Pansexuality refers to people who are sexually or romantically attracted to people of all or regardless of gender, as indicated by the prefix ‘pan’ meaning all! This attraction is not limited by gender and encompasses individuals who identify as male, female, non-binary, or any other gender identity. Pansexual individuals also often find themselves drawn to others based on emotional, intellectual and physical connections that transcend gender binaries.
Defining some common terms: Pansexuality vs other sexual orientations.
Bisexuality: Individuals who identify as bisexual or ‘bi’ experience romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction to multiple genders.
Demisexuality: Individuals who identify as demisexual or ‘demi’ require a strong emotional bond or connection before experiencing sexual attraction. Typically demisexual folk do not experience immediate sexual attraction based solely on physical appearance.
Unpacking harmful myths about pansexuality.
There are many misconceptions about pansexuality so we want to put the record straight. Let’s break down 5 very common misconceptions about pansexuality, so we all have the tools for pan folk to feel more confident in their own sexuality, while the rest of us can be better allies for the pansexual community!
1. Bisexuality and pansexuality are the same thing. False!
It’s often assumed that pansexuality and bisexuality are the same thing as they both involve attraction to multiple genders, and while pansexuality does come under the bisexual umbrella, there is a difference!
Pansexuality is all about attraction to all gender identities, while bisexuality involves being attracted to multiple gender identities. For example attraction to men and women, women and non-binary folk, or men and non-binary people, but not all of them. However it is important to note that sexuality is a deeply personal aspect of somebody’s identity, and it’s important to recognise that each person’s experience is unique, so some bisexual folk might resonate with the pansexual definition and vice versa.
2. Pansexuality is transphobic. Nope!
Some folks assume that pansexuality is transphobic because it specifically includes trans individuals, whereas bisexuality does not categorically outline an attraction to trans folk, however this isn’t true. Pansexuality individuals are attracted to others based on their personality, emotional connection, and physical chemistry, irrespective of their gender identity, The inclusivity of pansexuality extends to all individuals, regardless of whether they are cisgender or transgender.
However that isn’t to say that bisexuality is transphobic instead! Bisexuality also encompasses attraction to multiple gender identities, which can include cisgender and transgender individuals too.
3. Pansexual people are just being greedy. Absolutely not!
Just because a pansexual person can be attracted to anyone, doesn’t mean that they will be attracted to everyone. Pansexuality, like any other sexual orientation, does not imply automatic attraction to every person they encounter. Just as heterosexual individuals are not attracted to every member of the opposite sex, pansexual individuals do not experience attraction to every person of any gender. Pansexual individuals, like anyone else, have their own unique preferences and selectivity when it comes to forming romantic or sexual relationships.
Assuming that pansexual individuals are more prone to cheating or lack commitment is also a harmful stereotype. Sexual orientation does not determine somebody’s devotion in a relationship, and pansexual people can be just as committed as anybody else.
4. Pansexual people are just confused. Another myth!
Pansexual individuals have a very clear understanding of their own sexual orientation. They don’t need to choose between individuals of different genders to validate who they are and these misconceptions often stem from outdated patriarchal and heteronormative values which aim to categorize and validate individuals based on their relationships.
5. Pansexuality is just a new trend. You guessed it, false!
The term has actually been around for ages, documented in the Oxford English Dictionary since the 1900s, with its current definition dating back to 1960 and even if it were a newer term, that wouldn’t make it any less valid. As our society evolves, so does our understanding of identities. Our language must adapt to embrace and affirm diverse identities, such as pansexuality.
Things to remember as a pansexual person.
Regardless of societal pressures or misunderstandings, your sexuality is valid and you don’t owe anyone an explanation of the way you experience romantic or sexual relationships. As a pansexual person, you may encounter situations where others question or misunderstand your sexual orientation, however you deserve to assert your own identity. While it’s perfectly okay to educate others about pansexuality if you choose to, it’s not your responsibility to justify or convince anyone of the validity of your sexual orientation. Trust your own experiences and feelings, and let that be your guide.
Things to remember if you are in a relationship or having sex with a pansexual person.
Educate yourself on what it means to be pan and on the pansexual community. It’s really important that we listen to our partner(s) experiences and support them. If we make sure they feel heard and that their individual needs are met, this will help to build mutual respect within our relationships while also creating the groundwork for partnered sex, where everybody feels seen. As previously mentioned, the pansexual community can face judgment from others, so creating a safe space within your relationship is a good place to start.
Always remember that sexual orientation is on a diverse spectrum. By acknowledging and embracing the diversity in our unique sexualities, we can create a more inclusive and accepting society.