More people are identifying as pansexual as sexual fluidity becomes more common in popular culture and traditional media. According to a 2017 poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, 14% of respondents identified as pansexual, up from 7% in 2012.
What is pansexual?
The most popular definition of pansexuality is that it refers to people who can feel sexual inclinations for anybody, regardless of their sex assigned at birth or gender identity. The term pan- means "all" in Greek, so pansexuals may be attracted to folks of all genders. That includes attraction to someone who identifies as a cisgender male, transgender female, bigender woman, nonbinary woman, or any other gender.
Some pansexuals claim that they are attracted to individuals based on their personality rather than their gender. This isn't to suggest that pansexuals are attracted to everyone; it's just that gender isn't the defining element in who they're not interested in.
Why is it that everyone equates pansexuality and bisexuality?
There are a few reasons! But first, let's define bisexuality.
The term bisexuality refers to the ability to be attracted — romantically, emotionally, or sexually — to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree.
The two orientations are quite similar, as you can see. Both, for example, embrace two or more genders. (Because pansexual people are attracted to all genders, they fall into the “or more” category.)
Most importantly: Both are valid.
The primary distinction between the two orientations is that pansexuality is more gender-neutral than bisexuality.
A simple Am I Pansexual Quiz
There's no surefire test to determine if you're pansexual—only you can make that decision for yourself. That being said, here are some signs to keep an eye out for:
- Regardless of gender, you're attracted to others.
If you are attracted to people of all genders, or if you can develop an attraction to individuals without knowing their pronouns or gender identity, this is a positive indication that you may be pansexual. "This might imply that someone's gender isn't a deal-breaker in terms of wanting to have sex with them or date them, and even that gender isn't important when it comes to sexual desire," Jesse Khan adds.
- Bisexual doesn't seem to fit.
Bisexuality, in reality, implies an attraction to two or more genders—and so it may include attractions to just as many people as pansexuality. Even so, it's possible that the word "bisexual" doesn't apply to you for some reason. That might be a hint that you're pansexual instead of bisexual.
- You feel comfortable with the label.
Finally, the most important aspect is that you feel comfortable identifying as pansexual. It may take some time or trial and error to figure out whether this label accurately describes you, which is perfectly fine!
How is pansexual different from panromantic?
Panromantic is a romantic — not sexual — orientation.
A panromantic is someone who could be romantically interested in people of various genders.
The term pansexual may be used to cover people who are panromantic and pansexual. However, when it comes to labeling oneself as panromantic or pansexual, many individuals choose to identify as pansensual (when their romantic orientation differs from their sexual orientation).