It’s not the same as being bisexual.
So what is pansexuality and how does it differ from other LGBTQ identities? We turned to Holly Richmond, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist and marriage and family counselor, to learn more.
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Pansexual isn’t the same as bisexual. “Pan comes for the Greek word all,” Richmond says. “Pansexual is not bi-sexual, it’s all sexual.” That means a pansexual person could be attracted to a man, woman, a transgendered person, or a non-gendered person (a person who chooses not to identify themselves by gender), Richmond says.
Pansexuality doesn’t translate to promiscuity. Pansexuals may be attracted to all people, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to have sex with anyone, Richmond says. “Pansexuals can be very choosy,” she says.
The term “pansexuality” only emerged recently. Richmond says she first started learning about pansexuality five or six years ago at a conference for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. Although pansexual people have definitely been around longer than that, the general public is just starting to learn what that sexual identity means.
Less than 1 percent of the population identifies as pansexual. Because pansexuality is a fairly new concept to many people, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many identify with the label, Richmond explains; she puts her best estimate at less than 1 percent. But as more people become aware of pansexuality, there may be more people who come to identify that way, she says.
Pansexuality isn’t just about sex. When pansexuals are making a romantic connection, it’s very much about connecting with the person—not the gender, Richmond says. “It’s about developing meaningful relationships.”