Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness and Visibility Day 2022
“Oh yeah, you find cookware sexy do you?”
“Personally I’m forksexual.”
“I tried dating Teflon, but it just didn’t stick.”
Okay, so, now that we’ve got that out of the way.
Much like bisexuals and other mspec (“multisexual spectrum”, an umbrella term to describe people who are attracted to multiple genders as opposed to just one) folks, we’re typically invisible every other day of the year, so this is the one day of the year that we permit you to perceive our majesty and bask in our glory.
Contrary to popular belief, ‘pansexual’ is not just ‘spicy bisexual’, nor does it mean someone who will bang anything that breathes.
So, what does the ‘pan’ in ‘pansexual’ and ‘panromantic’ mean?
‘Pan’ is a Greek prefix which means ‘all, every’.
A good way to look at the difference in labels is this:
Bisexual means attraction to more than one gender.
Pansexual means attraction to someone regardless of their gender.
Both bisexuality and pansexuality are completely transgender-inclusive and can reflect a multitude of different lived experiences and feelings towards people.
For many people, it’s a term that removes a barrier that we simply cannot relate to, and opens things up in a way that allows for more fluid sexual, romantic and/or emotional attraction to people.
When I personally use the term bisexual I do feel valid but it’s like that scene in the anime Naruto where Rock Lee is shown to be an amazingly powerful fighter but he’s not winning, and then it turns out that he was fighting with weights on the entire time, and then he removes the weights and reveals phenomenal strength.
So I can absolutely use the term bisexual and be happy and capable with that, but if I remove the weights and introduce and embrace the term pansexual I feel more able to express the nuance and fluidity of how my sexuality works.
Yes, I just made a Naruto reference. I said I was pansexual, I didn’t say I wasn’t a huge nerd.
Pansexual Flag Shoelaces from Rainbow & Co
According to Wikipedia, the term ‘pansexualism’ was used by Johann Christoph Freidrich von Schiller, a German creative and philosopher in the 1700s, to explain “the aesthetic and sensual civilization that reconciled sensuality with reason.”
The term was then used in 1914 by opponents of Sigmund Freud, to denote the idea “that the sex instinct plays the primary part in all human activity, mental and physical.”
These origins help to explain why ‘pansexual’ feels like ‘bisexual’ without restraints, but many people do use the terms interchangeably, and bisexual activists have worked hard in recent decades to establish that these terms are not in contest with one another, but rather complement one another.
The term ‘pan’ does not have to be used only with ‘pansexual’ but also ‘panromantic’ which removes the sexual attraction element and focuses on romantic attraction, and many people under the asexual spectrum also identify with the notion of some form of attraction, bond or unity with people regardless of their sex, gender, gender expression or lack thereof.
Panromantic Flag Mug from Rainbow & Co
Deciding which term is right for you needn’t be a source of stress. There is no right or wrong way to be mspec, our existence is evidence of how undefined human sexuality can be.
But it is important that those of us who identify as pansexual or panromantic are seen and included. Pan folks have been part of bisexual activism since its creation, we are not new, we have always been a part of the conversation and part of the queer and LGBTQ+ community.
We deserve recognition, representation, and rights.
This article was written by Felix F Fern (He/They). Felix is a disabled, mspec and non-binary transgender activist and co-founder of the grassroots activism team Trans Activism UK.