What Does Allosexual Mean?

Allosexual is a newer term for an age-old concept.

The term allosexual refers to a person who experiences any type of sexual attraction. Allosexual is the opposite of asexual, a person who does not experience sexual attraction.

If you haven't heard of the term before, it's because it is relatively new. As of 2022, allosexual had not made it into Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster reported the term asexual has been in use since 1795.

Allosexuality Defined

According to Dictonary.com, "Allosexual refers to people who do not identify as asexual—that is, people who regularly experience sexual attraction, regardless of their sexual orientation. Asexual, in contrast, refers to people who experience no or little sexual attraction."

A person who identifies as allosexual can be straight, gay, bisexual, or pansexual. Simply put, allosexual is the orientation of a person who experiences any kind of sexual attraction.

Going further, allosexuality is not ascribed to any gender nor describes the depth, frequency, or intensity of sexual attraction. That means a person can identify as allosexual, regardless of gender identity or expression.

Why Is the Word Allosexual Used?

If you're just now learning about allosexuality, don't feel bad—it's a fairly new concept. "This is a term I have only seen in the last 10 years," said Sarah Melancon, PhD, a sociologist and clinical sexologist at Vityl Men's Health Clinic.

The term was born from a movement to make the language more culturally inclusive. It describes the opposite of asexuality or the lack of sexual attraction to others. The previously used term—sexual—was imprecise and easily confused with a person who is sexually active.

Using the term allosexuality is meant to deter the belief that not having sexual feelings is abnormal, which can be dehumanizing to those who are asexual. "It's a way of exploring asexuality without stigmatizing [asexual people] simply for existing," Dr. Melancon said. "Creating these concepts and having labels out there gives us a way to have a conversation."

Allosexuality and the Sexual Spectrum

Adding the term allosexuality into the lexicon also helps enhance the understanding of the spectrum of sexuality. Heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality all fall under the allosexual umbrella. So does pansexuality, the attraction to others regardless of their gender identity or sex.

People who identify as demisexual or greysexual, however, are more likely to consider themselves asexual, as they experience sexual attraction only along with a strong emotional connection or on a very limited basis.

A Quick Review

While knowing when, where, and how to use the term allosexual can be confusing, a good rule of thumb is to ask new acquaintances how they prefer to be addressed, and then do so accordingly. If someone tells you they identify as allosexual (or asexual, for that matter), be supportive and respectful.

And of course, knowledge and understanding are important steps to being open to the gender and sexuality identities of others who think differently than you. To learn more about allosexuality and the sexuality spectrum in general, educational resources like the Trevor Project, GLAAD, and Asexuality.org, among others, can help.

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  1. Merriam-Webster. Asexual.

  2. Dictionary.com. Allosexual.

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