As the number of individuals identifying as pansexual rises, our culture is moving toward a more nuanced view of sexual orientation — but what does that mean for monosexuality?

Monosexuality — the attraction to only one sex or gender identity — is becoming less common, especially among Generation Z.

According to a 2016 survey conducted by the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group, only 48 percent of teenagers identify as completely straight, and over a third of those surveyed expressed an identity ranging between 1 and 5 on the Kinsey scale, indicating different levels of bisexuality, or non-monosexual identities. Among millennials, that number drops to only 24 percent.

Similarly, a 2015 YouGov survey conducted in the United Kingdom found that one in two 18-24-year-old young adults identified as something other than completely heterosexual, and less than half of survey respondents agreed with the idea that you can only be monosexual (gay or straight — nothing in between). As Mark Simpson writes for Out, “The fact that only half of 18-24s say they are completely het­ero­sexual is a sign that the younger generation is abandoning mono­sexu­al­ity as a belief system.”

Shifting Semantics

Studies like these reveal a fundamental generational shift — one that’s catalyzing widespread reconsideration of the existing language we use to describe sexual orientation and gender identity.

As a result, labels like “pansexual” and umbrella terms like “queer” have gained popularity in describing both fluid sexual orientation and individuals whose identities do not conform to essentialist conceptions of gender. While terms like “gay,” “lesbian,” and even “bisexual” are often sufficient in referring to cisgendered people, they fail to encompass the nuanced intersections of sexual orientation and gender identity for those who do not identify with their birth sex.

But these aren’t the only terms gaining momentum — new labels for both sexual orientation and gender identity emerge constantly. Facebook, for example, now allows users to input more than 60 different labels for their gender, and Tinder has over 40. When market research firm Culture Co-op asked 1,000 young people whether they think that Facebook’s options for gender are excessive, nearly a third of them responded that they believe this amount is just about right or too few. Determining the appropriate identity that encompasses your inner self and seeing your identity represented can be a major step in the right direction to accepting and embracing yourself; in fact, many mental health professionals in our provider network provide assistance to help you embrace your identity.

A Fluid Future

The simple fact that a word like monosexuality has made its way into public discourse marks a significant move away from heteronormativity; the attraction to one — and in most cases, the opposite — sex was for so long an ingrained assumption that most people didn’t even know there was a word for it. And while there will likely always be individuals who identify as monosexual, the idea that everyone is straight unless they’ve publicly declared otherwise is finally beginning to fade, and space is being created in the LGBT community for new identities each day.

So pick a label. Or create your own. Or don’t. You do you.

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