What it Means to be Pansexual or Panromantic
24 May is Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness and Visibility Day – but what exactly does it mean to be Pan?
To be pansexual is to have a sexual or romantic attraction not limited by gender, or gender identity, while to be panromantic is the same except without the sexual attraction. Attraction is not dependent on gender; pan people are attracted to the person before anything else. However, this doesn’t mean they’re attracted to anyone and everyone!
Though it’s likely that pansexuality has always existed in some form, to some degree, it is surely no coincidence that pansexuality has become more recognised in a modern society where people are able to explore and express their sexuality more openly. We are becoming gradually more aware of the largely socially-constructed nature of binary gender separation, and the fundamental nature of the shared humanity that unites us despite our comparatively superficial differences. Perhaps it’s not too much of a stretch to say that pansexuality reflects this.
As Psychology Today (PT) states:
”Younger generations [who are generally more open to non-traditional perspectives] and those who have a gender identity, gender expression, or gender role that society considers inappropriate for the sex one was assigned at birth (aka ‘non-cisgender’) are more likely to identify as pansexual.”
Whatever the case, all too often pansexuality isn’t taken seriously, dismissed as an invented identity and casually conflated with bisexuality. But pansexuality is a legitimate sexuality in its own right, distinguishable from bisexuality through its emphasis on being ‘gender-blind’.
“Pansexuality is not equivalent to bisexuality, because it is broader in scope. It explicitly rejects attractions based on binary notions of sex (male/female) and gender (man/woman). Whereas bisexuality implies a dichotomy, pansexuality suggests the possibility of attraction to a spectrum of gender identities.”
Singer/actor Miley Cyrus opened up about her pansexuality:
“I always hated the word ‘bisexual,’ because that’s putting me in a box. I never think about someone being a boy or a girl. I saw one human in particular who didn’t identify as male or female; they were beautiful, sexy and tough but vulnerable, feminine but masculine. I related to that person more than anyone in my life.”
It seems that many people identify as pansexual or panromantic because it gives their identity freedom to flow, and enables them more room to be themselves without defining their sexuality so broadly they lose individuality. Ultimately, it depends on how important labels are to a person, and whether the structure it provides their sense of self outweighs the potential constraints on their identity.
“We actually know little about pansexuals and pansexuality. This is unfortunate because pansexuality is a real thing with repercussions and importance among millennial youth who are searching for identities that adequately reflect who they are.”
Pansexuality hasn’t come out of anywhere, like a passing fad worn to make one seem more interesting. It isn’t unnecessarily overcomplicating bisexuality. It is simply a label for sexuality that would still exist without one, despite not conforming to the limited views of society.
The Truth About Pansexuality: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/sex-sexuality-and-romance/201711/the-truth-about-pansexuality