Pansexuality, or omnisexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love, or sexual desire for people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. 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.
The word pansexual is derived from the Greek prefix pan-, meaning "all". In its simplest form, pansexuality denotes the potential of sexual attraction to all genders and beings. It is intended to negate the idea of two genders (as expressed by bi-)
The adjective pansexual may also be applied to organizations or events. In this context, the term usually indicates an openness to the involvement of people of all genders and sexual orientations in said organization/event, as well as the pansexual sexual identity.
Pansexuality compared to bisexuality
Bisexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by attraction to both the same gender and the opposite gender, or genders (cf. Homosexuality is attraction to just the same, and Heterosexuality just the opposite - neither of these two mention men or women or how many genders there are).
Those pioneering the term pansexuality often attack bisexuality as being "about two genders" and say that it does not specifically include people who supposedly fall outside the gender binary. Pansexuality has been described as a "means to skip the binaries and essentialism of 'bi'."
However, many people who identify as bisexual are actually attracted to people who fall outside the gender dichotomy. These people, who could be described as pansexual, have a variety of reasons for identifying as bisexual, including preference for a better definition of bisexuality that doesn't include the number of genders ("attraction to people from more than one gender"), widespread unfamiliarity with the term "pansexual" as well as its negative connotations for some people.
Another proposed difference is that while bisexuals are attracted to both genders, or even to people who fall outside traditional gender boundaries, pansexuals don't even take gender into account as far as attraction is concerned. This could leave the attraction to be based on personality, or simply general physical attractiveness. This also applies to many bisexuals too, however.
- 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.
- [http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/index.php/Main/Bisexuality "Bisexuality isn't about there being two sexes", The Bisexual Index
- Haritaworn, Jin, Chin-ju Lin, and Christian Klesse. "Poly/Logue: A Critical Introduction to Polyamory." Sexualities 9.5 (2006): 515-29.