Being pansexual is something I have always known to be true about myself. From a young age I was always aware that my attraction to people is not limited by their gender or sex, but I lacked the words to explain this. At 12 years old I was introduced to the term “bisexual” by a friend, who was attracted to both girls and boys. I finally felt as though I had a word for how I felt.
As years passed, my knowledge expanded, and I discovered the many different gender identities on the spectrum. Pansexuality soon entered my vocabulary, and it has stayed with me ever since. However, with being openly pansexual comes the inevitable questioning. Questions about what it means, if it's a "real" thing, and whether or not it’s a phase. So here are some of the most annoying questions, myths, and misconceptions, answered, so you don't have to ask us. Ever. Again.
1. “Being pansexual is the same as being bisexual – there are only two genders”
Although the terms do overlap, "pansexual" and "bisexual" mean two different things. Bisexuality is defined as the attraction to at least two (sometimes more) genders - not limited to just cis men and women. The prefix "pan" originates from Greek, meaning "all" or "every". Pansexual people are attracted to all kinds of people, regardless of their gender, sex or presentation. There are several genders, and while some trans people do not fit into the traditional gender binary, some do. So for example, while a bisexual cis woman may be attracted to cis men and women, I am attracted to cis people, trans people, demigender people, and genderfluid people, to name a few.
2. “Pansexuality is just another word for being greedy and promiscuous”
Here's the situation – being pansexual makes me polysexual, but not polyamorous. Just as you can be monosexual (only attracted to one gender) and polyamorous (having a desire for more than one romantic or sexual relationship at a time), you can be polysexual and monogamous. Although even if I was polyamorous, calling me promiscuous or greedy would still say more about you than it would about me.
Pansexuals aren't more likely to be promiscuous or unfaithful than anyone else. Just because we are attracted to all kinds of people, it doesn’t mean we're attracted to ALL people. Sexual identity and sexual behaviour are two completely unrelated things, neither of which influence the other.
3. “You’re confused”
This is my favourite. The people who say it are usually just ignorant about sexuality and gender. Contrary to popular belief, sexuality does not have to be one of two extremes. Rather, it is a spectrum, and there are many sexualities between heterosexual and homosexual. Being pansexual doesn't mean that I'm yet to make a choice about whether I am gay or straight, but instead it means that I'm not restricted in choice of partner because of a person's gender or sex. This isn't something that I've committed myself to – it's just who I am. I have the ability to form connections with people because of their character and personality and who they are at their core, and for those things alone.
4. “It’s just a fashionable thing to say: you wouldn’t have identified as pansexual 5 years ago”
Yes, the rise of awareness of the term can be attributed to the likes of Tumblr, but in no way does this diminish its meaning. Pansexual was reclaimed in the Nineties by people who wish to indicate their recognition of the fluidity of gender, and their belief that there are more than two genders. Five years ago I didn’t identify as pansexual, because I didn’t know the word. It can only be a good thing that people are talking about it, and more people are becoming familiar with a term that explains who they are. Sexuality is not a trend, and there’s nothing fashionable about opening yourself up to prejudice by expressing who you are.
5.“But you've only ever dated men”
People I know question my sexuality all the time just because I've only dated cis men. But this has nothing to do with my sexuality, and everything to do with who I've happened to pursue relationships with. I don't need to justify my sexuality to anyone by dating a woman, trans person or a nonbinary person just to prove that I'm pansexual. The bottom line is, whether or not I've dated people of other genders, I'm attracted to all different types of people. You should take my word on MY sexuality, just like you take heterosexual peoples' on theirs.
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