When it comes to sexuality, there are a number of ways people can identify. While you might understand what it means to be heterosexual, bisexual or asexual, one of the lesser-known terms is pansexuality. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a person who is pansexual is attracted to all genders, whether the attraction is romantic or sexual.
According to scholar Ayisigi Hale Gonel, the term pansexual comes from the Latin root “pan,” meaning “all,” and is defined by an attraction to individuals of all genders and sexes (or, as Dan Levy so succinctly put it in an episode of Schitt’s Creek: “I like the wine and not the label”). It’s not that you’re attracted to every single person you meet if you’re pansexual, but rather it’s possible for you to find people of any gender desirable.
Trying to figure out your sexuality is a journey that is ongoing how you identify may change over time. If you’re questioning whether you’re pansexual, we’ve rounded up some signs that could be useful to help you figure it out.
You’re attracted to who people are on the inside
It might seem obvious, but if you’ve found yourself attracted to people of all genders, there’s a good chance you might be pansexual. This doesn’t mean you’re attracted to everyone, but instead, that you could potentially see yourself with someone, regardless of their gender or identity. Schitt’s Creek star Emily Hampshire, who is pansexual, opened up about her attraction to others in Passport Magazine, explaining, “I don’t fall for people because of their bodies — I fall for them because of who they are.”
The bisexual label doesn’t really fit you
According to a study from the Graduate Journal of Social Science, pansexuality differs from bisexuality because the understanding of attraction is not limited to social constructs of men or women. People who identify as pan aren’t only attracted to those two genders, although some of them may have identified as bisexual first, before realizing that the pansexual label fits them better. Bella Thorne is one example – after learning what pansexuality was, the star felt it was a better fit than identifying as bisexual. “You like what you like,” she told Good Morning America.
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You might not identify as cisgender
While this isn’t the case for all pansexual individuals, many people, such as Miley Cyrus and Madison Bailey, are both cisgender and pansexual – in fact, one study from The Journal of Sex Research found that people adopting queer and pansexual identities were more likely to be non-cisgender. Again, this doesn’t mean every non-cis person identifies as pansexual, but according to the research, it tends to be more common.
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You’ve been attracted to someone without knowing their pronouns or sexual orientation
Without assuming someone’s gender, if you’ve found yourself attracted to someone without knowing how they identify, you likely have the potential to be attracted to different genders. That potential indicates that someone’s gender likely isn’t a factor when it comes to your attraction.
Related: 11 ways to be a respectful LGBTQ2S+ ally.
You see gender and attraction as being fluid
This might not be true for all pansexual people, but in a study from Sexual and Relationship Therapy, participants who used pansexual as a term or identity allowed “enough openness in terms of self and in terms of attraction to others that the fluidity of gender and erotic desire itself became a central feature organizing their identities.” In other words, for pansexual people, fluidity often matters when it comes to how they identify.
You see pansexuality as being inclusive
In a study from the Journal of Bisexuality, some people conflated being bisexual with being pansexual. However, because pansexuality involves the ability to be attracted to any person, it’s often seen as being more inclusive. If you’re leaning towards the label because you feel it better captures the variety of people you’re attracted to, it’s a sign it might be a good fit for how you want to express yourself.
Related: 10 lady-loving celebrity couples.
You don’t identify as onmisexual
Although the terms are similar, pansexual people can be attracted to anyone regardless of their gender, while omnisexuals can potentially have a preference while still being attracted to people across the gender spectrum. According to clinical sex therapist Casey Tanner, “Pansexuality is more gender-blind, while with omnisexuality, gender influences the type or strength of attraction to each gender.”
Your ideal partner doesn’t have a specific gender
When you try to picture who you dream of ending up with, that person doesn’t necessarily look like a Hollywood star such as Michael B. Jordan or Megan Fox. Maybe you envision yourself with different people, or you can’t picture one person at all. Whatever the case, being open to different people and not being tied to one idea of who you want to end up with could indicate a possibility that you’re open to all genders.
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