These days, more terms than ever recognize different sexual identities and genders, and the list keeps evolving. You’ve probably heard some of them before, such as bisexual, asexual, and even pansexual (a person whose sexual attraction isn’t limited to any one gender or biological sex, in case you didn’t know).
But have you ever heard of skoliosexual? It sounds like something to do with your spine. But while the origin of the word isn’t clear, it’s actually a legitimate sexual orientation you might start hearing more of.
“’Skoliosexual’ is the attraction to persons who are non-binary in their identity and expressions,” Reece Malone, a Canada-based certified sex therapist and sexologist, tells Health. Though skoliosexuals are attracted to people with these sexual or gender identities, anyone—whether they’re transgender, non-binary, or cisgender—can be skoliosexual.
Who we’re attracted to may not be a conscious choice, but “for some people, especially those who are trans and gender non-conforming themselves, there’s a feeling of safety and comfort knowing that there are shared or relatable experiences,” says Malone.
While skoliosexuals are exclusively attracted to non-binary folks, they are attracted to the whole person; it’s not about fetishizing a person’s body parts. That being said, Malone notes that “how a skoliosexual describes their attraction is as diverse as the number of skoliosexuals that exist.”
Though the term sounds pretty niche, Malone believes that skoliosexuality may be more common than we realize, since what constitutes attraction and the way each person describes who they’re attracted to varies so much among individuals.
Malone explains that so many people who don’t fit the “norm” when it comes to gender identity have been disempowered in our society, and consequently they’ve struggled with their mental health and relationships. So even if you’re not skoliosexual, acknowledging that this identity exists helps normalize non-binary folks and keeps them from suffering the consequences of being marginalized.
“If we gave ourselves permission to proudly declare that our diverse attractions are part of the human experience, I imagine that we’d live in a kinder and more compassionate world,” says Malone.
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