- More than 100 new emoji have been approved, and will be released on smartphones in 2020.
- Among the new emoji are a transgender flag and a transgender symbol, as well as gender-inclusive emoji like a woman in a tuxedo and a man in a veil.
- This is the latest step being taken to make emoji more LGBTQ friendly and gender-inclusive. In 2019, both Apple and Google added gender-neutral options for nearly every human emoji, from firefighters and doctors to couples and families.
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The slew of new emoji rolling out to smartphones this year will include the transgender flag and symbol, finally ceding to LGBTQ advocates who have long asked for additional representation.
More than 100 new emoji were recently approved for release in 2020 by the Unicode Consortium, the group that sets the industry standard for text and emoji across various platforms. Among emoji representing bubble tea and ninjas, the Consortium OK'd the flag that represents transgender individuals, made up of stripes in light blue, pink, and white.
Besides the transgender flag and symbol, the new emoji include some gender-neutral and gender-inclusive options for emoji that already exist: a gender-neutral Mx. Claus; a man and gender-neutral person in a veil; a woman and gender-neutral person in a tuxedo; and a gender-neutral person holding a baby.
The addition of these emoji is the latest step taken in providing the LGBTQ community with equal representation in the virtual language of emoji, harnessed by smartphone users in text messages, social media posts, and phone contacts.
While gendered emojis have been around since the first ones came to iPhones in 2008 and Android in 2012, the pride flag wasn't released until 2016, and more inclusive gender-neutral emoji weren't created until a few years ago. Both Google and Apple rolled out software updates in 2019 to include gender-neutral options for virtually every human emoji, including those for couples and families where each individual in the icon could be changed.
The addition of LGBTQ-inclusive emoji has become an increasingly important issue for smartphone users. Among those in the always-online Generation Z, only two-thirds identify as heterosexual, and 35% know someone who uses gender-neutral "they/them" pronouns. When gender-neutral emoji started rolling out, LGBTQ community members quickly praised them for giving them options for emoji that look more like them and shirk traditionally gendered characteristics.
"Anytime we can make anyone feel more seen and included, it's a good thing," Jean-Marie Navetta, a spokesperson for a LGBTQ-inclusive family organization called PFLAG, told Business Insider in 2019. "We're starting to recognize when people need other ways to express themselves ... We are really thinking about this in ways we haven't in the past."
Wednesday's debut of the transgender flag was quickly met with celebration on Twitter from individuals, both trans-identifying and not, who were excited to see added representation for the trans community.
-Helen🧜🏻♀️(⧖) (@mimmymum) January 29, 2020
-Anna Lytical 🌈👩🏻💻👸🏻 (@theannalytical) January 29, 2020
-✨ vintage @furmore20 ✨ (@vintagecoyote) January 29, 2020
You can find the full list of new emoji coming to smartphones in 2020 on the Unicode Consortium's website.