Pansexuality (frequently referred to as pan) is a sexual orientation characterized by the sexual attraction to all people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. Thus, pansexuality includes potential attraction to people who do not fit into the gender binary of man/woman (despite a common ideology trans people mtf or fem still fit into the binary). Some pansexuals suggest that they are gender-blind; that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others. If this applies but in only romantic attraction this would be referred to as panromantic (this also applies for bisexuality in most cases).
The word pansexual is derived from the Greek prefix pan-, meaning "all". "All" is specifically in reference to gender. Using pan instead of bi for instance is intended to acknowledge the other genders and gender identities.
Because pan- refers only to genders, and not to sexual practices or people in general, pansexuality does not signify attraction to all people. Similarly, it also does not signify interest in all sexual behaviors (fetishes). In its simplest form, pansexuality is the potential of sexual attraction to all genders.
Pansexuality versus bisexuality
The terms "pansexual" and "bisexual" are not mutually exclusive. Pansexuality by definition includes attraction to all genders and sexes. Bisexuality, on the hand, is the attraction to two or more genders. This means someone who identifies as bisexual can be attracted to only two genders, or only three genders, or only four genders etc... It can also mean that a bisexual person can be attracted to all genders which in this case, creates an overlap with pansexuality. In fact, bisexuality is often seen as an "umbrella term" that includes sexualities like pansexuality and polysexuality ( being sexually attracted to multiple, but not all, genders ). Even though some pansexuals might identify as both pansexual and bisexual, many of them prefer to only use the term pansexual to describe their sexuality in order to be more specific and more accurate as to the way they feel. Although many people think differently, bisexuality and pansexuality are not the same thing. Both are valid sexualities.
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language - Fourth Edition. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from Dictionary.com website
- Diamond, L., & Butterworth, M. (2008). Questioning gender and sexual identity: Dynamic links over time. Sex Roles. Published online March 29, 2008.