What Does It Mean to Identify as Gynesexual? Here's What You Need to Know
This sexual identity isn't confined to an attraction to females.
Like homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or pansexual, gynesexual (sometimes spelled gynosexual) involves an attraction to femininity. Basically, to be gynesexual is to be attracted to a person who identifies as female or displays stereotypically feminine characteristics—and that person could be male, female, trans, or non-binary.
Gynesexuality is similar to androsexuality: Gynesexual people are attracted to women or feminine people and androsexual people are attracted to men or masculine people, American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) certified sexuality educator Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, tells Health.
Unlike many other sexual identity terms, gynesexuality doesn't specify the person's own gender. People who identify as gynesexual may also identify as male, female, nonbinary, or something else.
"The nice things about the labels gynesexual and androsexual is that they don't require people to discuss their own gender identity or sex when they're talking about attraction," Boskey says. "For example a non-binary person who was designated female at birth and is attracted to women might feel more comfortable with the label gynesexual than lesbian, because to label themselves as a lesbian would imply that they identified as a woman."
Because there's an overlap between gynesexuality (and androsexuality for the masculine spectrum) and other sexual identities, it's a great way of describing someone's attraction to people on the trans spectrum without objectifying or fetishizing trans people, American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) certified sex educator and ACS certified sexologist Barbara Carrellas tells Health.
"If you are a woman who is attracted to women, you typically identify as a lesbian, because the definition of a lesbian is a woman who loves women," Carrellas says. "Your gender, not just the gender you're attracted to, is part of the definition of lesbian. But what if you're a nonbinary person who loves women? This is when you'd more likely identify as gynesexual, because—and this is the important part—the term gynesexual describes who you are attracted to, not what your gender is. Anyone could be gynesexual."
What if you identify as a cis-man or a cis-woman but are attracted to both feminine women and feminine men? "Bisexuality implies that you are attracted to both women and men. But that's not really you," Carrellas says. "You're not attracted to masculine-presenting men or women. Gynosexual is a much better fit for you."
The more we understand that sexuality exists on a spectrum, the easier it is for people of all sexualities to embrace their sexuality in a healthy way, Boskey points out. "Understanding all the different ways a person can experience sexual attraction makes it less likely that people will judge themselves or others for being different."
The terms gynesexual and androsexual have been around for a while, but they have generally been confined to clinical discussions. "The use of gynesexual (or androsexual) as a description of personal sexual orientation is more likely to be found in queer spaces," Carrellas says. "So if you're using the term gynesexual outside of the queer community, you might have to define the term. But that's not a problem—it's a good thing. We need more precise words to describe the infinite shades and flavors of sexual attraction and desire."
Despite growing awareness of the LGBTQ+ community, people are still shamed for not fitting into the tight boxes of straight, gay, and lesbian. "The popularization of words like gynesexual creates a breakthrough moment for people who have thought they were odd or wrong for being equally attracted to feminine women, feminine transpeople, and feminine men," Carrellas says. "The more specific we can be in naming our desires the more likely we are to create deep, intimate, rewarding relationships."
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