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While there seems to be an emoji to represent everyone and everything, a significant group was completely left out — the transgender community. But yesterday, the Unicode Consortium (the group which decides what emoji make it onto our phones) revealed 117 new emoji designs that’ll be rolled out later this year, and among them is a transgender flag.
The call for a transgender flag and symbol was sponsored by Google and Microsoft to “better represent individuals with non-cisgender identities.” In Unicode’s Proposal for Transgender Flag Emoji, it states: “Google, Microsoft, and the individuals listed in this document believe that adding an emoji illustrative to our life experiences isn’t just about creating technology that should be accessible to everyone — it’s about fostering culture that is inclusive of users around World,” Unicode’s Proposal for Transgender Flag Emoji reads.
Back in 2018, Charlie Craggs, a British activist and author of ‘To My Trans Sisters,’ started a campaign, #ClawsOutForTrans, criticizing Unicode for ignoring the transgender flag emoji in favor of the lobster and the pointless ‘person in steamy room.’ At the time, Craggs told TNW: “For unicode to ignore our community is almost like a form of erasure and stinks of transphobia, they see the proposals every year, they know it’s been the most requested emoji the last couple of years, yet they still think soup cans are more important and worthy than us.”
Thanks to proposed designs, by the end of the year, there will be 62 new emoji and 55 new gender and skin tone variants, including more gender-inclusive options, such as a “person feeding baby,” “person in veil,” and “person in tuxedo” — designs typically only available in one gender.
Emoji designs and ideas can be pitched to Unicode by anyone, but ultimately the consortium has the final say. Since 2016, the Transgender Pride Flag (blue, white, and pink) was the most requested emoji after the Gay Pride Flag appeared on our phones.
As well as more gender-inclusivity, your emoji keyboard will also see a polar bear, a seal, bubble tea, pepper, and a mammoth.