In today’s society people are becoming more comfortable in their surrounding and who they are as a person. This includes being more comfortable identifying with who they truly are. The term “pansexual” has been growing in use over the past couple years as the understanding of gender and sexuality grows and evolves. However, if you ask someone “what does pansexuality mean?” Odds are they will have no idea what it is. I believe that for someone to be accepting of a new idea or even consider it, they should probably know what it is. My goal is to help educate people on what these terms, who some people might be hearing for the first time, actually mean. To help you understand what the term “pansexuality” means and what it truly means to identify as pansexual, here are some points of everything you should know. Are you wondering, what’s pansexuality?
1. Do they like pans?
My friends who identify as pansexual tell me that when they tell people they are pansexual that people say “so you like pans?” So as the first step to understanding what the term pansexuality means, here is the general definition of what the word means and where it came from. The word itself is derived form the Greek word “pan” meaning all. This is because the term pansexual is used to describe someone who feels as though they are sexually and emotionally capable of falling in love with anyone regardless of gender, sexuality, and expression. Someone who is pansexual is open to someone who is male, female, transsexual, agender, etc.. This doesn’t mean that someone who is pansexual likes everyone. Just like everyone else, someone who identifies as pansexual could have their physical preferences. The term is used more to describe someone who’s attraction does not prescribe to societies rigid view of gender. Are you still wondering, what’s pansexuality?
2. How is pansexuality any different from other sexual expressions
People often confuse the idea of pansexuality with other sexual expressions due to the open nature of the term. Most commonly people will refer to someone as bisexual or polysexual. There is a lot of overlap when it comes to defining sexual orientation and this is because sexual identity is very confusing. Pair this with man’s innate desire to define everything, you will get some overlap and some conflicting ideas. The main difference between pansexuality and other sexual orientations is the idea of gender. Someone who identifies as pansexual does so to express their open view of gender and their rejection of the traditional gender choices (i.e. male vs. female). Someone who identifies as bisexual is open to a romantic and sexual attraction to both men and women. Someone who is bisexual may have a strong (or weak) preference one way or the other. The term bisexual does not include the openness to the attraction of someone who does not prescribe to either male or female. The term polysexual is derived from the Greek word “poly” meaning many. There is quite a lot of overlap between the two identifies of polysexual and pansexual but there are a few distinct differences. Someone who identifies as polysexual may be open to a romantic or sexual attraction to someone who does identify as male or female. However, a key characteristic of someone who is polysexual is that they are not open to ALL individuals who do not identify as male or female and are just open some. Are you still wondering, what’s pansexuality?
3. The idea of labels
The most important thing to understand about the label of pansexuality is that it is just that, a label. The term was created as a way for people who share the beliefs of pansexuality to put a name to it. With every definition of any word, there is conflict. Especially when the word was created to put a name to a group of people and a form of identification, there is some lash back from similar groups. Some people who identify as bisexual feel as the idea of pansexuality is a form of erasure of the idea of bisexuality and the idea of bisexuality is already inclusive. While others feel as though people who identify as pansexual are just simply trying to escape the label of bisexual and the stigmas that go along with it. It is important to remember that sexuality is just as fluid as gender and because of that a term cannot possibly encompass every belief. The purpose of creating the terms such as bisexuality and pansexuality is to make it a more tangible concept. It is hard to identify as a group of beliefs that does not have name. People will not understand and will most likely just dismiss it. If you find yourself sharing the beliefs of the term pansexuality you may have found an identity that fits you. If the opposite is true and you find yourself identifying with some of the beliefs but not all or have not found an identity that fits you, don’t feel like you have to identify yourself at all. When our parents were growing up the idea of pansexuality existed but the term didn’t. Just because you have not found a sexual identity that does not fit you does not mean that your beliefs are not valid. The list of terms we have today were created to help understand the complex idea of sexuality, not constrict it. Are you still wondering, what’s pansexuality?