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Template:Sexual orientation

Pansexuality, or omnisexuality,[1] is sexual attraction, sexual desire, romantic love, or emotional attraction toward persons of all gender identities and biological sexes.[2][3] Self-identified pansexuals may consider pansexuality a sexual orientation,[3] and refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.[4] The Oxford English Dictionary defines pansexuality as, "not limited or inhibited in sexual choice with regard to gender or activity".[5]

The concept of pansexuality deliberately rejects the gender binary, the "notion of two genders and indeed of specific sexual orientations",[3] as pansexual people are open to relationships with people who do not identify as strictly men or women.[3][6]


The prefix pan- comes from an Ancient Greek term meaning "all" or "every". Omni- comes from a Latin term meaning "all". "Pansexual" is derived from the word "pansexualism," dated back to 1917, which is the view "that the sex instinct plays the primary part in all human activity, mental and physical".[7][8] Credited to Sigmund Freud, it is a term of reproach leveled at early psychology, and is also defined as "the pervasion of all conduct and experience with sexual emotions".[9]

The conceptualization of "pansexuality" as distinct from "pansexualism" contrasts with predominant prefixes attached to the -sexual and -gender roots. Traditional thought employs the prefixes hetero- (opposite), homo- (same), bi- (two) and trans- ('across'). A transgender identity opens up a gender continuum rather than a gender binary rubric, but does not discard or disregard the idea of gender altogether.

Compared with bisexuality and other sexual identities[edit]

A literal dictionary definition of bisexuality, due to the prefix bi-, is sexual or romantic attraction to two sexes (males and females), or to two genders (men and women).[10] Pansexuality, however, composed with the prefix pan-, is the sexual attraction to people of all sexes or genders. Using these definitions, pansexuality is different in that it includes people who are intersex and/or fall outside the gender binary.[3][8] Go Ask Alice! states that pansexuals can be attracted to cismen, ciswomen (meaning cisgender), "transmen, transwomen, intersex people, androgynous people, and everything else. It is generally considered a more inclusive term than bisexual".[8] Volume 2 of Cavendish's Sex and Society, however, clarifies that "[a]lthough the term's literal meaning can be interpreted as 'attracted to everything,' people who identify as pansexual do not include paraphilias, such as bestiality, pedophilia, and necrophilia, in their definition" and that they "stress that the term pansexuality describes only consensual adult sexual behaviors".[3]

The definition of pansexuality encourages the belief that it is the only category that covers individuals who do not cleanly fit into the categories of male/man or female/woman.[2][6] However, bisexual-identified people may object to the notion that bisexuality means sexual attraction to only two genders, arguing that since bisexual is not simply about attraction to two sexes and encompasses gender as well, it can include attraction to more than two genders.[11] Gender is considered more complex, as it includes genetic, hormonal, social, and environmental factors,[3] and there are gender identities that are wholly similar to each other.[11] The term pansexuality is used interchangeably with bisexuality, and, similarly, people who identify as bisexual may "feel that gender, biological sex, and sexual orientation should not be a focal point in potential [romantic/sexual] relationships".[3] In one study analyzing sexual identities, described as alternative terms for bisexual or bi-self labels, "[h]alf of all bisexual and bisexual-identified respondents also chose alternative self-labels such as queer, pansexual, polyfidelitous, ambisexual, polysexual, or personalized identities such as 'byke' or 'biphilic'".[12]

Polysexuality is similar to pansexuality in definition, meaning "encompassing more than one sexuality," but not necessarily encompassing all sexualities. This is distinct from polyamory, which means more than one sexual relationship at the same time.

In the media[edit]

  • Writer Russell T Davies introduced Captain Jack Harkness, of British series Doctor Who and Torchwood, with the intention of properly introducing bisexuality to the British public.[13] However, the term "omnisexual" is also frequently used by cast and crew to describe the character; its use is intended to highlight that Jack does not discriminate between humans and aliens.[14][15] Actor John Barrowman explains that in TorchwoodTemplate:'s usage, it is an "in-universe" term; Jack represents in real-world terms the representative portrayal of a bisexual man in a lead role on television. "[He]'s bisexual, but in the realm of the show, we call him omnisexual, because on the show, [the characters] also have sex with aliens who take human form, and sex with male-male, women-women, all sorts of combinations."[16]
  • In the American Dad episode "You Debt Your Life", the Smith family's live-in alien, Roger, describes himself as a "fey pansexual alcoholic non-human" in a similar vein to comedian Andy Dick.
  • Franky Fitzgerald, played by Dakota Blue Richards, is a pansexual and androgynous girl from the UK show Skins. In season 5, she stated that she was "into people" when asked about her sexuality.[17] Richards has denied rumours that her character is homosexual,[18] and has said that Franky is an 'outsider' who doesn't want to be seen as male, female, gay or straight.[19] Episode 7 of the series reveals her to be pansexual.[20]
  • Lisbeth Salander, heroine of the popular The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, is identified as simply enjoying sex and not minding much with whom she is enjoying it.
  • Bo, a succubus from the popular Canadian supernatural, drama series Lost Girl has mentioned "putting herself out there" with different people: men, women, human, and Fae.
  • Craig Pelton, dean of Greendale Community College in the show Community is constantly hinted at being pansexual and is actually once described as such by his vice-dean.

See also[edit]




  1. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language – Fourth Edition. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from website
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  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Template:Cite book
  4. Diamond, L., & Butterworth, M. (2008). Questioning gender and sexual identity: Dynamic links over time. Sex Roles. Published online March 29, 2008.
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  9. The Free Dictionary
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