You may have come across the term “pansexuality”—it’s increasingly aired on social media—and if you aren’t familiar with the idea, you may have wondered what it means.
What is “pansexuality”?
To put it simply, whereas a bixsexual person typically identifies as being romantically and sexually attracted to people of both sexes, pansexual people recognise that gender identity is often more complex than a straightforward male/female division, and that they are potentially sexually attracted to anyone.
Pansexual people (“pan” comes from the ancient Greek word for “all”) are not sexually attracted to people of any particular gender, so anyone is potentially a mate for them, including people who are physically intersex (a small percentage of people in every society is born with sexual characteristics that are neither completely female nor completely male) and people who identify as transmen or transwomen—in other words, who present as a gender other than the one typically associated with their physical sexual characteristics. They typically say that they are attracted to the person, not to their sex or gender.
A lot of people struggle to understand sex and gender beyond the relatively simple male/female division that is at the centre of traditional family life. However, at its heart, pansexuality is quite simple. Pansexuals literally don’t care what genitals a potential partner has, or how they prefer to present themselves to the world (for instance, in stereotypically male or female clothing). Instead, they are interested in the individual as a complex human being. However, within the umbrella term of pansexuality, in practice some people are more often attracted to same-sex or opposite-sex partners; the point is that the potential for attraction is always there.
Because the concept of pansexuality (which clearly has much in common with the concept of bisexuality) is a relatively new one, not much serious research has yet been carried out into the phenomenon. However, we can see it in the sociological context of the ongoing breaking-down of strictly gendered rules for behaviour and the progressively more liberal nature of our society. When men and women, including transmen and transwomen, can work, dress, and behave however they want, it is unsurprising to find the emergence of a quality such as pansexuality.
Some common misconceptions about pansexuals include the idea that they are more likely to be sexually promiscuous than others. As they are potentially attracted to anyone, this line of thinking goes, they might be attracted to everyone, in which case why aren’t they hopping in and out of people’s beds all day long? In fact, pansexuals are no more likely to be promiscuous than anybody else. Nor are they necessarily likely to have more than one relationship at the same time—pansexuals do not have to be polyamorous, too, and are often found happily enjoying a monogamous relationship with someone they love.
Who can I speak to further about Pansexuality?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.