What is pansexuality?
The term “pansexuality” has its roots in the Greek prefix pan, meaning “all.” Pansexuality is a sexual orientation describing a person who is attracted to all types of people, regardless of sex or gender.2 Pansexuals are capable of carrying out sexual, emotional, and romantic relationships with people of all genders. They could be interested in someone who is male, female, transgender, intersex, or genderqueer/third gender.3 It should be noted that pansexuals are not sexually attracted to everyone; they just have openness towards people of all sexes and gender identities.
The pansexuality flag represents all gender identities: rose represents the female gender, blue the male, and gold the third gender – which includes those who identify as intersex, transsexual, genderqueer, and genderfluid.
Pansexuality vs. Bisexuality
There is a lot of confusion over the differences between pansexuality and bisexuality. Some people assume that pansexuality and bisexuality are the same. However, there are some key differences.
A large aspect of the pansexual identity is the recognition of people who do not fall within the gender binary; that is, people who do not identify as male or female.1 Bisexuality, on the other hand, generally refers to attraction to the two traditionally accepted sexes: male and female.1
- “Claiming to be pansexual is just a way to excuse promiscuity.” The Truth: Identifying as pansexual means that one is open to dating people of all identities.4 It doesn’t mean that they date or have sex with many people at the same time.4 Pansexuals are just as capable of holding steady, long-term relationships as anybody else of any other sexual orientation.
- “Pansexuals like EVERYONE.” The Truth: Pansexuals have the potential to be attracted to people of all gender identities and sexual orientations.3 Just as a straight male is attracted to women – but not all women – someone who is pansexual is only attracted to certain people of each identity. Just because they can be attracted to anybody does not mean that they are attracted to everybody.
Mary Gonzalez serves as a representative for the Texas House of Representatives. Gonzalez recently came out as pansexual after originally identifying as lesbian.5 She does not believe in the gender binary, and thus felt that the term “bisexual” did not accurately describe her sexuality. She has dated cisgender women as well as individuals who identify as transgender and genderqueer. Gonzalez is the first openly pansexual US official.5
Jazz Jennings is a male-to-female transgender woman who identifies as pansexual.7 She is an important advocate for transgender youth, and was named in Times’ “25 Most Influential Teens of 2014.” At age two, Jennings began confidently stating that she was a girl, and, at the age of five, was one of the youngest people to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Jazz’s family was very supportive and she began her transition during kindergarten.6 When Jazz was fourteen, she co-authored a memoir about her early life with gender dysphoria and as a transgender child.6 She says that she likes people for their personality rather than their sex, gender, or sexual orientation.7
1. “Difference Between Bisexual and Pansexual.” Difference Between. Np, nd. Web. 4 March 2015.
2. “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 101.” Unitarian Universalist Association. Np, nd. Web. 4 March 2015.
3. What is Pansexuality?” Stop Homophobia. Np, nd. Web. 4 March 2015
4. Ellenthal, Lex. “Myths about Bisexuality and Pansexuality Debunked.” Bust. Np, nd. 4 March 2015.
5. “Mary Gonzalez, Texas State Representative, Identifies as Pansexual in New Interview.” The Huffington Post. Np, 10 August 2012. 20 April 2015.
6. Prowse-Gany, Brian. “The New Face of Transgender Youth.” Yahoo! News. Np, nd. 21 April 2015.
7. Stewart, Sara. “It’s a Transgender World.” The New York Post. Np, nd. 21 April 2015.
Last updated 26 May 2015.