Pansexuality (also referred to as omnisexuality or polysexuality)[1] refers to the potential for sexual attractions, sexual desire, romantic love, or emotional attraction, towards people of all gender identities and biological sexes.[2][3] Self-identified pansexuals may refer to themselves as gender-blind—that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.[4] The Oxford English Dictionary writes that pansexuality "encompasses all kinds of sexuality; not limited or inhibited in sexual choice with regards 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",[6] as pansexual people are open to relationships with people who do not identify as strictly men or women.[7] Pansexuality can also mean the attraction to a person's personality, rather than their physical appearance or gender.



The prefix "pan" comes from an Ancient Greek term meaning "all" or "every". "Omni" comes from a Latin term meaning "all". "Poly also comes from Ancient Greek and means "many" or "much".

These are contrast with competing prefixes attached to the -sexual suffix such as hetero/homo meaning opposite/same, or bi- meaning two.

Compared with bisexuality

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).[8] 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.

Bisexual-identified people may object to this distinction, 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, as "gender" is a more complex issue; for example, gender identities that are wholly similar to each other.[9]

As a hypothesis

Pansexualism is a hypothesis in psychology "that regards all desire and interest as derived from [the] sex instinct"[10] or, in other words, "that the sex instinct plays the primary part in all human activity, mental and physical."[11]

In the media

  • 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.[12] 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.[13][14] Actor John Barrowman explains that in Torchwood'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."[15]
  • Roger, the grey alien in Seth McFarlane's American Dad!, describes himself as a "...fey, pansexual, alcoholic, non-human".[16]
  • Franky Fitzgerald, played by Dakota Blue Richards, is a pansexual and androgynous girl from the UK show Skins (TV series) season 5, and stated that she was "into people" when asked about her sexuality.[citation needed] Richards has denied rumours that her character is homosexual,[17] and has said that Franky is an 'outsider', and that she doesn't want to be seen as male, female, gay or straight.[18] Episode 7 of the series reveals her to be pansexual.[19]
  • Lisbeth Salander, heroine of the popular The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, is identified as simply liking sex and not minding much with whom she is enjoying it with.
  • Dreya Weber, actress, producer and aerialist, describes herself as omnisexual.[20]
  • A support character by the name of Zevran in the popular fantasy video game Dragon Age: Origins could be considered pansexual. He is an elf who displays sexual attraction to many others along no distinctive lines of gender, age, or racial boundaries. When questioned about his sexuality, his reply is: "My only rule with sex is that it's done right."

See also


  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language – Fourth Edition. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from website
  2. ^ "Pansexuality". SexInfo Online. University of California, Santa Barbara. 
  3. ^ Hill, Marjorie J.; Jones, Billy E. (2002). Mental health issues in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. American Psychiatric Pub. p. 95. ISBN 9781585620692. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  4. ^ Diamond, L., & Butterworth, M. (2008). Questioning gender and sexual identity: Dynamic links over time. Sex Roles. Published online March 29, 2008.
  5. ^ definition of pansexual from Oxford Dictionaries Online
  6. ^ Rice, Kim (2009). "Pansexuality". In Marshall Cavendish Corporation. Sex and Society. 2. Marshall Cavendish. p. 593. ISBN 9780761479055. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  7. ^ Soble, Alan (2006). "Bisexuality". Sex from Plato to Paglia: a philosophical encyclopedia. 1. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 115. ISBN 9780313326868. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  8. ^ "GLAAD Media Reference Guide". 
  9. ^ "What is Bisexuality?". The Bisexual Index. 
  10. ^ The Free Dictionary
  11. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  12. ^ "Davies hails Captain Jack's sexuality". digital spy. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  13. ^ Ryan, Maureen (14 July 2007). "Spike from 'Buffy' and 'Torchwood's Captain Jack Harkness - Yowza!". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  14. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (25 May 2006). "Dr. Who 2: Sexed-Up British Intelligence". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  15. ^ Ryan, Maureen (2007-07-14). "Spike from 'Buffy' and 'Torchwood's Captain Jack Harkness - Yowza!". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  16. ^ "You Debt Your Life". American Dad!. No. 12, season 6.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "". Retrieved 2008-07-23. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • pansexuality — noun see pansexual …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pansexuality — See pansexual. * * * …   Universalium

  • pansexuality — noun /ˌpænsɛkʃuˈælɪti,ˌpænsɛksjuˈælɪti/ A sexual orientation characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love and/or sexual desire for people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex …   Wiktionary

  • pansexuality — pan·sexuality …   English syllables

  • pansexuality — noun see pansexualism * * * pansexualˈity noun • • • Main Entry: ↑pansexual …   Useful english dictionary

  • pansexual — pansexuality, n. /pan sek shooh euhl/, adj. 1. Psychiatry. pertaining to the theory that all human behavior is based on sexuality. 2. expressing or involving sexuality in many different forms or with a variety of sexual outlets. [1925 30; PAN +… …   Universalium

  • Human sexual activity — This article is about sexual practices (i.e., physical sexual activities). For broader aspects of sexual behavior see Human sexuality. Relationships …   Wikipedia

  • List of media portrayals of bisexuality — The portrayal of bisexuality in the media reflects societal attitudes towards bisexuality. List includes portrayals of bisexual identification as well as non identified bisexual behavior. Contents 1 Film 2 Literature 2.1 Fiction …   Wikipedia

  • Polysexuality — refers to people who are attracted to more than one gender or sex but do not wish to identify as bisexual because it implies that there are only two binary genders or sexes. Polysexuals are those people sexually attracted to many different sorts… …   Wikipedia

  • pansexual — adjective Date: 1926 exhibiting or implying many forms of sexual expression • pansexuality noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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