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What is Pansexuality?

Firstly, pansexuality is nothing to do with pots and pans! 

The ‘pan’ part of the word means ‘all-inclusive’ as in the words ‘panoramic’ or ‘pandemic’.

Pansexuality is a sexual identity in which a person may be attracted to others regardless of their gender. People who are pansexual differ in this respect from gay, bi and straight people, who are attracted to people based on gender. As a counsellor, I’ve heard many pansexual clients describe themselves as gender blind. 

Pansexuals therefore have the potential to be attracted to all genders. But this doesn’t mean to say they’re attracted to everyone, of course. This would be silly – like saying that a straight woman is attracted to every man she sees – from a 15-year-old boy to a 70-year-old man – walking down the street. Pansexual folks can and do still have preferences in terms of who they fancy but it’s just not based on gender.

You can be any gender yourself to identify as pansexual. Pansexual people can be men, women or non-binary. 

Are there myths?

There are so many myths when it comes to pansexuality. Here are a few:

Are pansexual people more likely to cheat?

Just because someone is attracted to people regardless of gender it doesn’t mean they’re going to be cheaters. Knowing someone’s sexuality doesn’t tell you if they are going to be faithful or not.

Are pansexual folks not able to be monogamous?

Firstly, monogamy or non-monogamy does not signify better or worse relationship styles: what works for you, is consensual, and you’re happy with, is what’s important. Many pansexual folks are monogamous, and many are non-monogamous. Just because someone is pansexual doesn’t mean they want to have multiple relationships. A person’s sexuality doesn’t tell us anything about their relationship style as these are two different things.

heart, lights, sparklers, sparkle, red, pink, shape, hearts, fireworks

Is pansexual a more trans friendly term than bisexual?

Both pansexuals and bisexuals can be trans inclusive. Pansexuality is neither a better nor a more evolved identity. The history behind this thinking often comes from people using the simplistic definition of bi meaning two (in this sense men and women) and missing out non-binary genders. However, the bi community have long since recognised that there are more than two genders, and understand ‘bi’ to mean attraction to more than one gender. So, this could mean attraction to men and non-binary folks, women and non-binary folks, or any other combination of gender preferences.

Is pansexual the new word for bisexual?

No, many bi and pan people see the identities as different; however, they do have some commonalities. This is because bi is an umbrella term used to describe people who are attracted to individuals of more than one gender. Pansexual, polysexual (attraction to many genders), and omnisexual (attraction to all genders), all fall under the bi umbrella. Many bisexual people would describe themselves as being attracted to more than one gender, but the main difference is that with bisexuality, gender is an important part of the attraction whereas with pansexuality it’s not.

However, it’s also important to remember that there is no fixed definition for pansexuality and that terms often change and evolve with time, so it’s possible that you might meet different pansexual people who would describe their identity differently.

Image of the author, Chloe Foster

Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.

Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.
Website: www.sussexrainbowcounselling.com

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