Pansexual Facts: Everything You Need To Know [2022]

We gathered all interesting pansexual facts in one place. If you want to know more about it, how common is it, and how many polyamorous pansexuals there are, read on.

By now, we’ve all seen the terrible memes about people getting sweaty looking at kitchenware, so no comment about that here.

Today, we’re looking at a relatively new term in the lexicon of sexuality – pansexuality. 

Where does it come from? How do we define it? And how common is it really? Read on to find out! 

Top Pansexual Facts:

  • Pansexual as a term for sexuality was used early on in the BDSM community to describe desires to play with anyone regardless of gender identity. 
  • The pansexual pride flag was created on the internet around 2010 and has steadily seen increasing use since that time.
  • 2% of adults in the US identify as pansexual. 
  • 17% of non-binary LGBTQ adults are pansexual. 
  • Pansexual is distinct from other terms like polysexual, bisexual, polyamorous, androgynous, and omnisexual (though omnisexual is often used interchangeably).
  • Pansexuals can show higher levels of depression and anxiety than heterosexuals. 
  • One study found that 90.8% of pansexual people were in polyamorous relationships. 9.2% were in monogamous relationships. 

The Early History of “Pansexuality”

  • The term pansexual appears to have been popularized from somewhere within BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism) communities. It referred to engaging in non-normative sexual behaviors and meant “it’s ok for everyone to play with everyone else.”

(Bisexual and Pansexual Identities: Exploring and Challenging Invisibility and Invalidation, 2020)1 

  • Pansexuality as a term for a sexual identity has been appearing in research, papers, and other publications since the 1990s/2000s, so it’s a fairly recent term. 

(Bisexual and Pansexual Identities: Exploring and Challenging Invisibility and Invalidation, 2020)1 

  • According to the Kinsey Institute, the word pansexuality could originate from opponents of Sigmund Freud, who invented or popularized “pansexualism.” From the early 1900s, pansexualism described the view that most human behaviors come from sexual instincts.

(CNN, 2017)2

  • The pansexual pride flag was created on the internet around 2010 and has steadily seen increasing use since that time. It has three horizontal bars, similar to but distinct from the bisexuality flag.

(University of Northern Colorado, unspecified)3


What Is Pansexuality?

  • Pansexual refers to a person who is sexually, emotionally, romantically, or spiritually attracted to other people regardless of biological sex, gender expression (i.e., masculine or feminine characteristics), or sexual orientation.

(The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, 2015)4

  • Pansexuality rejects the notion that there are “only two” genders, recognizing the inherent flexibility and fluidity along the spectrum. It recognizes that anyone can fall anywhere along the gender spectrum at any time. 

(The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, 2015)4

  • Pansexuals are much less likely to indicate a preference along gender lines. For example, self-described bisexuals in one study said they had a preference (e.g., I prefer women over men) 36.8% of the time, and self-designated queer people said they had a preference 33.3% of the time. Pansexuals had a preference just 11.8% of the time, indicating that gender identity tends to be less important to them. 

(Journal of Bisexuality, 2016)5


How Common Is Pansexuality?

It may be a relatively new designation, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many pansexuals out there. 

In fact, it looks like a lot of people were waiting for a term that described how they love more accurately, and the word came along to fill the gap in meaning. 

Let’s see how prevalent it is. 

  • In a 2018 survey, 14% of LGBTQ people between the ages of 13 and 17 self-identified as Pansexuals.

(Human Rights Campaign, 2018)6

  • The United States is currently the only country where as many as 2% of people identify as pansexual.

(IPSOS, 2021)7 

  • Adults who identify as transgender, non-binary/gender-fluid/non-conforming are the most likely to identify as pansexual.  17% of people who identified as not cisgender were also pansexual. 

(IPSOS, 2021)7

  • 1% of people globally identify themselves as pansexual. 

(IPSOS, 2021)7

  • Breakdown of Youth who self-identifies as Pansexuals by gender identity:
    • Girls – 583 (11.0% of the total sample)
    • Boys – 312 (9.4% of the total sample)
    • Non-binary – 750 (25.8% of the total sample)

(Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2019)8

  • 17% of non-binary LGBTQ adults are pansexual. 

(Williams Institute, School of Law, UCLA, 2021)9


Stigmas And Challenges That Pansexuals Commonly Face

Like any LGBTQ+ group, pansexuals, unfortunately, face their own set of stigmas against them and challenges in their everyday lives. Many of these are similar to those faced by the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, but some are unique to them. 

What are some of the most common issues that pansexuals face? 

  • Some common misconceptions/stigmas that society has about Pansexuality:
    • Pansexuality is not a real sexual orientation.
    • Pansexuality is just the latest trend among youth.
    • Pansexual people are confused about their own identities. 
    • Pansexual people are sexually promiscuous.
    • Being pansexual is the same as being bisexual.
    • Pansexual people are always polyamorous (desire relationships with more than one partner).

(Journal of Bisexuality, 2021)10

  • Average levels of reported stressors of Pansexuals by gender identity:
    • Victimization
      Participants were asked how often they had experienced  “verbal insults” or “threats of physical violence” due to their sexual orientation identity or perceived sexual orientation identity.
      *Scales are 0 (never), 1 (1 time), 2 (2 times), 3 (3 or more times).
      Higher average scores indicate more victimization. 
      • Female – 1.84 (1 time/nearly 2 times)
      • Male – 3.42 (3 or more times)
      • Non-binary – 2.89 (2 times/nearly 3 times or more)
  • Internalized Stigma
    When asked if participants are feeling critical, depressed, proud (to be a part of the LGBTQ community), and expressing regret when thinking about the LGBTQ.
    *Scales are 0 (strongly disagree), 1 (disagree), 2 (agree), 3 (strongly agree)
    Higher scores reflect stronger internalized stigma.
    • Female – 0.65 (strongly disagree)
    • Male – 0.87 (strongly disagree)
    • Non-binary – 0.78 (strongly disagree)

(Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2019)8 

  • Pansexual college students, on average, exhibit both moderate levels of depression and moderate anxiety. This is higher than 
  • Pansexuals’ average depression and anxiety levels from a 2018 study:
    • PHQ-9 (depression levels): 
      • Pansexuals – 12.37 (moderate levels of depression)
      • Heterosexuals – 6.99 (mild levels of depression)
        Patient Health Questionnaire-9 is used to assess major depressive disorder.
        *Scales have cut-point of 5 (mild), 10 (moderate), 15 (moderately severe), and 20 (severe).
    • GAD-7 (Anxiety levels): 
      • Pansexuals – 10.13 (moderate levels of anxiety)
      • Heterosexuals – 6.16 (mild levels of anxiety)
        Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 is used to assess generalized anxiety disorder.
        *Scales have a cut-point of 5 (mild), 10 (moderate), and 15 (severe).

(Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 2018)11


Common Misconceptions of Pansexuals vs. Other Sexual Terms

For people not in the community, there might be several different terms that seem to conflate into one, especially when it comes to something like pansexuality. 

While it can be easy for cishet people to confuse pansexuality with other terms, there are important distinctions that everyone should know. 

Let’s see what distinguishes pansexuality from the other terms it commonly gets mistaken for: 

  • vs. Bisexuality
    • Pansexuality specifically rejects the idea of choosing between male and female as choices of gender to be attracted to. It does not recognize the gender binary, a spectrum of gender where man is at one end and female is at the other end. 

(The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, 2015)4

  • Pansexuality and bisexuality are similar but not quite the same. People who identify as pansexual may be attracted to people of all gender identities, while bisexuality is the attraction to two or more genders, but not necessarily all of them.

(WebMD, 2021a)12

  • People who identify as bisexual might also be accurately described as pansexual, but this does not apply in every case.

(WebMD, 2021a)12

  • Some people who could be described as pansexual still choose to identify themselves as bisexual because they believe the term is easier to understand for other people. 

(WebMD, 2021a)12

  • vs. Polysexual
    • The prefix “poly-” means “much” or “many.” Polysexual people are attracted to individuals of more than one gender, though the exact number is not specified by the word. 

(Healthline, 2022)13

  • Polysexual is similar to bisexual since it implies someone who is attracted to multiple generals. Pansexual denotes an attraction to every gender, without exceptions. “Polysexual” can be thought of as a sort of “umbrella term” that encompasses bisexuality and pansexuality.

(Healthline, 2022)13

  • Polysexuality is the attraction to people of many, but not necessarily all genders.

(WebMD, 2021a)12

  • Pansexuality is broader than polysexuality. Unlike bisexuality, polysexuality specifically implies that there are some genders to which the person is not attracted. Poly means many, but not all. For example, a polysexual person might be attracted to every gender except cis men. Meanwhile, a pansexual person may be attracted to men, women, nonbinary people, and people of any other gender identity.

(WebMD, 2021a)12

  • vs. Omnisexual
    • Omnisexual, like pansexual, means being attracted to people of all genders. In general usage, however, there are differences. Typically, pansexuality is associated with “gender blindness,” i.e., someone’s gender does not factor into attraction at all. This is not the case with omnisexuality, and gender is relevant to attraction in some way. 

(Healthline, 2022)13

  • vs. Androgynous
    • Androgyny is a gender expression, while pansexuality is a sexual preference. Androgynous means displaying both masculine and feminine characteristics and does not define gender identity or sexual preference. 
    • Therefore, an androgynous person might also be pansexual, or they could not be. 

(Cosmopolitan, 2021)14

  • vs. Polyamory
    • Polyamory refers to involvement in multiple romantic relationships at once or a desire to do the same. People of any sexual orientation can be in a polyamorous relationship.

(WebMD, 2021b)15 


Polyamorous Pansexuals

Polyamory, which, as we’ve just seen, means being in or wanting to be in multiple loving relationships at the same time, is not the same as being pansexual. 

Definitions aside, there does seem to be a lot of overlap between the two distinct groups. 

How much overlap exactly? Let’s see… 

  • One study found that 90.8% of pansexual people were in polyamorous relationships. 9.2% were in monogamous relationships. 

(Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2019)16

  • Breakdown of Pansexual people’s relationships by polyamorous relationship configurations and monogamous relationships:
    • Overall – 435 Pansexuals
    • Monogamous – 40 Pansexuals (9.20% of all pansexuals)
    • Polyamorous Relationships – 395 Pansexuals (90.80% of all pansexuals)
      Polyamorous relationship configurations:
      • Primary-Secondary – 216 Pansexuals (54.68% of all polyamorous relationships)
      • Co-Primary – 82 Pansexuals (20.76% of all polyamorous relationships)
      • Non-Primary – 97 Pansexuals (24.56% of all polyamorous relationships)

(Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2019)15 

  • For context with regard to relationship configurations: 
    • Primary-secondary relationship means there is a primary relationship, which usually involves sharing a residence, finances, and possibly children. There are also one or more secondary relationships that are less interdependent, and usually, partners do not live in the same household and share finances or children (though not always). 

(Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2019)15 

  • A co-primary relationship is a relationship where all members are equal partners, and all relationships are considered primary, i.e., no partner is considered more important than any other. 

(Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2019)15 

  • A non-primary relationship is a relationship structure where one does not identify any of their partners as primary.

(Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2019)15 


Conclusion 

Hopefully, this little piece has cleared up some confusion you might have had about pansexuality and what it means. 

Even though it’s a fairly new term in terms of sexuality definitions, an increasing number of people are using it to refer to themselves, so it’s clearly a relevant definition that we should all know about.


Footnotes

  1. Bisexual and Pansexual Identities: Exploring and Challenging Invisibility and Invalidation, 2020. A study about Bisexual and Pansexual identities.
  2. CNN, 2017 – An article about pansexuality, definitions and the origins of the term.
  3. University of Northern Colorado, unspecified. A resource of pride flags.
  4. The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, 2015. A book with definitions and research about Pansexuality and other sexual terminology.
  5. Journal of Bisexuality, 2016. A study of 172 American adults who self-identified as bisexual, pansexual, and queer.
  6. Human Rights Campaign, 2018. A study of 12,005 American young people aged 13-17 who identify broadly as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer.
  7. IPSOS, 2021. A survey of 19,069 online participants across 27 countries about a broad range of topics concerning LGBTQ+ people.
  8. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2019. A study of 11,811 Americans ages 13-17 years old of the sexual and gender minority youth.
  9. Williams Institute, School of Law, UCLA, 2021. A study of 164 nonbinary LGBTQ adults of two national surveys of LGBTQ adults.
  10. Journal of Bisexuality, 2021. A study of 107 American individuals.
  11. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 2018. A study of 43,632 American college students.
  12. WebMD, 2021a. An article about pansexuality.
  13. Healthline, 2022. An article about being pansexual.
  14. Cosmopolitan, 2021. An article about being androgynous.
  15. WebMD, 2021b. An article about polysexuality.
  16. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2019. A study of 6,412 total individuals who are either polyamorous or monogamous.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

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