What Does ‘Pansexual’ Mean? Ask Miley Cyrus!

For people who identify as pansexual, a definition can be limiting. Pansexual means “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity,” in the dictionary, but for Miley Cyrus, there is a lot more meaning to understand. Miley has been open about her sexuality, and in recent months “has been very vocal” about her sexual preferences. Miley Cyrus is pansexual.

In the October issue of Elle UK, 22-year-old Miley revealed her pansexual identity to the magazine

“I’m very open about it — I’m pansexual.”

Miley has also spoken about being “gender fluid,” and described the term to Paper magazine in July.

“I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn’t involve an animal and everyone is of age. Everything that’s legal, I’m down with. Yo, I’m down with any adult — anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me. I don’t relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.”

Some Twitter users don’t agree with Miley’s attitude about her sexuality, and think she is trying too hard to be controversial.

So, what is pansexual, and how is identifying as pansexual different from identifying as bisexual?

According to Heavy, Cyrus could call herself pansexual or “omnisexual.” Either word refers to someone who feels “sexual attraction, romantic love, or emotional attraction toward people of any sex or gender identity.” Pansexuals like Miley Cyrus aren’t concerned about gender and sex when they are interested in someone sexually or romantically. This is different from bisexuality, because pansexuals are attracted to people who are “outside the gender binary.” That means that pansexuals can be attracted to those who identify as ” cisgender people, transgender people, intersex people, androgynous people, and anyone else.”

Yahoo Health spoke with Jean Twenge, PhD, a millennial researcher, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, and author of Generation Me. Twenge says that gender and sexuality labels “are becoming more fluid,” while sex researcher Debby Herbenick, PhD, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, points out “that people have always been pansexual — they just didn’t know how to label it.”

Miley herself has changed the terms she uses to describe her sexuality, and deciding to identify as pansexual has been a journey.

According to Herbenick, the number of people who identify as pansexual is less than 1 to 2 percent, but over the next few years, “that number will increase” as people become more comfortable with the term.

What do you think? Is pansexual an identity that will become more common, or is it a fad?

[Image via Mike Coppola / Getty]