Trend Watch

Miley Cyrus Talked About Coming Out as Pansexual

Lookups for 'pansexual' spiked after Cyrus's most recent discussion of the term

Miley Cyrus's latest statement that she identifies as pansexual (“exhibiting or implying many forms of sexual expression”) caused lookups for the word to spike on October 12, outdistancing almost all other words.

Even still, Cyrus says coming out as pansexual to her religious Southern family was a fraught experience.
—Jaleesa M. Jones, USA Today, 11 Oct. 2016

The word is formed by combining the prefix pan- (from the Greek pan, which is the neuter of pas, meaning “all, every”), and the word sexual. The word is thought to have come to English from the German pansexualismus, and was first used among psychoanalysts in the early 20th century; our earliest evidence for the term is from 1914.

Let us add that this applies not to all Freudists, as we shall see in a moment, for a change has come about, and many no longer believe in this pan-sexual phantastery, sexual symbolism, the sexual trauma as the cause of hysteria....
-J. Victor Haberman, The Journal of Abnornmal Psychology, Oct. 1914

More recently, pansexual has been used as an alternative to bisexual by those who view gender as a spectrum rather than a binary.

In the comics from which the movie is adapted, Deadpool is pansexual – he makes no distinction between genders or gender identity in his choice of partners. The term “bisexual” would be too narrow for Deadpool, who has flirted with Thor, propositioned Spider-Man and wouldn’t rule out, say, unicorns.
—Ryan Gilbey, "Deadpool: The Pansexual Superhero Who Has Never Had a Non-Heterosexual Experience," The Guardian, 11 February 2016

With more people identifying across the gender spectrum between men and women, pansexuality has emerged as a catch-all that includes everyone else....Some prefer it to "bisexuality" because it ... encompasses attraction to men, women, transgender people and those who are intersex (born with a sex that doesn't fit the typical definitions of male or female). However, some sexuality scholars argue that the term "bisexuality" also includes these categories....
—Emanuella Grinberg, "What It Means to Be Pansexual,", 10 October 2016

"I always hated the word 'bisexual,' because that's even putting me in a box. I don't ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl. Also, my nipple pasties ... never felt sexualized to me."
—Miley Cyrus, quoted in "Miley Cyrus on Pansexual Identity: 'I Always Hated the Word Bisexual',", 11 October 2016

Trend Watch tracks popular lookups to see what people are talking about. You can always see all Trend Watch articles here.

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