A person who is pansexual can be attracted to anyone, regardless of their gender or sex. The attraction may be sexual, romantic, emotional, or a combination of these.

When a person experiences only romantic attraction and not sexual attraction, they may use the term “panromantic” instead.

The psychologist Sigmund Freud coined the term “pansexual” in the early 1900s. The prefix “pan” means “all.”

Keep reading to learn more about pansexuality, including what it means, where the term comes from, how it differs from bisexuality and polysexuality, and what myths exist about this identity.

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A pansexual person finds people attractive regardless of their gender or sex. They may refer to themselves as “gender blind,” meaning that gender does not influence their attraction.

The attraction could be purely sexual, emotional, or both. People who experience only emotional or romantic attraction may use the term “panromantic” to describe themselves.

People represent pansexuality with the pansexual flag, which consists of three horizontal stripes, each representing a different gender identity:

  • The top stripe, which is salmon pink, represents those who identify as women.
  • The middle stripe, which is canary yellow, represents those who identify anywhere on the gender spectrum or beyond.
  • The bottom stripe, which is bright blue, represents those who identify as men.

The term “pansexualism” first appeared in medical literature in the early 1900s. Sigmund Freud used it in an article in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

In the article, Freud used this term to argue that sex is the main motivation for all human thinking and behavior. Others used it to describe a type of sexual deviance. This led many people to misunderstand the term.

The bisexual community began to recognize pansexuality as a concept in the 1970s. Pansexuality then emerged as a distinct identity and community in the 1990s.

The prefix “pan” means “all,” while “sexual” refers to sexual attraction.

Pansexuality is different from bisexuality. While pansexuality involves no limitations on the genders of the people a person may be attracted to, bisexuality generally involves an attraction to two genders.

For example, a bisexual man may find both men and women attractive, but their attraction may be partially based on gender or sex. In pansexuality, gender has no bearing on attraction.

Some people use the term “bisexual” to describe an attraction to people of any gender or sex. However, this is still different from pansexuality because gender or sex is still an influential factor in a person’s attraction.

This is similar to omnisexuality, which has a similar meaning. Some people use “omnisexual” and “pansexual” interchangeably. However, some people argue that they are different because omnisexuality does not involve “gender blindness.”

Polysexual people also experience attraction to people of various genders and sexes. The difference between polysexuality and pansexuality is that a polysexual person may experience attraction to people of many genders but not necessarily all genders. A polysexual person may not have an attraction to some genders or sexes.

Polyamory involves having multiple romantic or sexual relationships at the same time.

Polyamorous relationships can involve people of any sexuality or gender, including only straight people. It is a misconception that only LGBTQIA+ people practice polyamory.

While pansexual people can potentially feel an attraction to anyone, this does not necessarily mean they will want multiple relationships. Many pansexual people prefer to have a relationship with one person at a time.

No online article can answer this question. A person may realize they are pansexual over time and with experience. If a person is not sure, that is OK.

People do not need to be completely certain to use a term such as “pansexual” to describe themselves. People do not need to use any particular term at all, if none feels right.

However, a person may be pansexual if they:

  • have ever developed an attraction to someone without knowing their gender or sex
  • do not think about gender or sex when they imagine the ideal partner or when they date someone new
  • have experienced attraction to people of multiple genders
  • find a person’s personality, or who they are, more interesting than their sex or gender
  • feel most authentic or true to themselves when they identify as pansexual

Learn more about the different types of sexuality.

Some people have misconceptions about pansexuality, such as those below.


One of the biggest myths about pansexuality is that it is transphobic.

Transphobia involves negative beliefs or behaviors toward people who are transgender, or trans. This includes anyone who has a gender other than the one people assigned to them at birth.

Because pansexual people do not consider gender in their attraction to others, some people mistakenly believe this means they do not recognize the gender of trans people. But this is not the case.

Pansexuality simply means that gender is not an important factor in a person’s attraction to someone else. It does not mean that the person does not believe gender exists or does not accept trans people’s identities.

Confusion or indecision

Another misconception about pansexual people, as well as bisexual and polysexual people, is that they are confused about who they find attractive. Some people view pansexuality as “just a phase” or a stepping-stone toward being gay.

These beliefs assume that all people are only ever attracted to one sex or gender. This is known as monosexism.


Another myth about pansexuality is that it is “greedy.” Some people assume that because a person can potentially be attracted to anyone, they will be attracted to lots of people and pursue many relationships.

This is not true. Just as straight people are not attracted to all people of one gender, pansexual people are not attracted to all people of all genders. They may also have different levels of interest in sex or relationships. Some may have few relationships, while others may have many.

People can find support and educational resources to learn more about pansexuality in the following places:

Being pansexual means a person can find anyone attractive, regardless of their gender or sex. The attraction may be purely sexual, romantic, or both.

Pansexuality does not mean a person will necessarily want to have many relationships or have multiple relationships at the same time. And it is not the product of indecision or a phase.

People can learn more about pansexuality by reading educational resources. They may also find it helpful to listen to the stories and experiences of pansexual people.