From the more true-to-life representation of Sex Education’s Ola discovering her sexuality and its limits, to Rick and Morty’s Rick Sanchez happily sleeping with any species of any description, depictions of pansexuality are varied and at hand, so why is there still confusion over the term? Let’s deep dive.
BY THE ROAM TEAM 5 MIN READ
Pansexuality is a sexual orientation that describes attraction, both emotional, sexual and romantic, to people regardless of their sex or gender identity.
Pansexuality is a sexual orientation that describes attraction (be it emotional, sexual, or romantic) to people regardless of their sex or gender identity.
Pansexual people might describe themselves as ‘gender-blind’, meaning their attitude to the gender of their romantic partners is neutral rather than fixed. In other words, pansexuality rejects the gender binary instead of placing itself somewhere within it.
The short answer is no. Although sometimes considered a ‘branch’ or ‘extension’ of bisexuality, pansexuality is distinguishable as a sexual orientation in its own right and we'd recommend distinguishing between them both.
Definitions of bisexuality can vary depending on who you’re talking to, but generally speaking bisexuality is understood as attraction to ‘both men and women’ or people of more than one gender. The main difference is that pansexuality centres attraction regardless of gender.
They are easily conflated, and differing definitions might cause them to overlap but a conventional definition of bisexuality doesn’t account for those who fall outside of the gender binary, and often people overlook that.
Pansexual people are also attracted to gender fluid or non-binary people; those whose gender identity fluctuates or doesn’t conform to a binary understanding of gender.
Labels and clear-cut definitions can greatly help the process of understanding your own sexuality, so don’t be scared to use them! But equally, they can make people feel boxed in or limited by a narrow definition that they don’t feel encompasses the breadth of their sexual identity.
It’s important to stay true to the terminology that feels most applicable and useful when it comes to understanding yourself and communicating your desires to others. If that means discarding terminology altogether, that’s fine too.