A recent episode of Dr. Phil focused on teenagers who are bullied because of their sexuality. During a panel discussion, one of the teenagers identified herself as a pansexual. What is pansexuality, and how does it differ from other sexual orientations?
What is a Pansexual?
A pansexual is defined as an individual who is attracted to other people regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. The word pansexual stems from the Greek prefix “pan”, which translated to English means “all”. Pansexualism is also a theory in Freudian psychology that proposes all desire and interest stems from the sex instinct.
Individuals who define themselves as pansexual can also refer to themselves as gender blind, omnisexual or gender fluid. This doesn’t mean they are promiscuous or attracted to everyone; rather, that they do not consider the gender of their target of affection as consequential. Pansexuals may be monogamous or polyamorous, meaning having more than one partner.
How does Pansexuality Differ from other Sexual Orientations?
Individuals who define themselves as pansexual differ from those who define themselves as bisexual in that bisexuality is a gender based binary definition. Heterosexuals are attracted to members of the opposite sex, homosexuals to the same sex and bisexuals to both sexes. Pansexuals, on the other hand, can also be attracted to the intersex (individuals who are both male and female and previously called hermaphrodites), transsexuals (individuals who undergo a sex-change operation) and transgender (individuals who vary from their traditional gender roles).
In other words, bisexuality and other forms of sexualities are thought to focus on ‘what’ the target of affection is; whereas pansexuality refers to attraction based on ‘who’ the person is. This attraction can be sexual or romantic. Pansexuality can be expanded to encompass sexuality with non-humans, although this is not the case for all pansexuals.
Current Status of Pansexuality.
Pansexuality is a term internationally recognized by sexologists and has been documented to occur in the natural world. Sexology researcher J. Boom advocates for pansexuality as a distinct offshoot of different sexual orientations. She states that pansexuality, or omnisexuality, naturally occurs among many different species. Boom maintains the acceptance of pansexuality may eradicate many neuroses that stem from placing limits on sexual tendencies. These neuroses include internal conflict and sexual phobias. While sexual oppression may result in the development of pathological conditions, research into the psychological benefits of pansexuality have yet to be conducted.