#clawsoutfortrans is raising awareness of the lack of a trans flag emoji
When it comes to representation, emojis matter. Remember the fact it took until 2015 for there to be more skin colours than white or yellow? Or the teenage girl who successfully lobbied for a hijabi emoji?
Alongside some overdue additions (including gingers, people with curly textured hair, and a receipt) last week’s iPhone update saw such not-so-vital new glyphs as a ball of wool, abacus, and a lobster. One emoji notably absent? The trans pride flag. There is a pirate flag, for some reason, but no trans flag.
It’s a blow to those fighting for greater keyboard representation – and the call for a trans flag emoji has been ongoing. Activist and author Charlie Craggs – who you probably know for her Nail Transphobia project – is one speaking up. “The transgender flag is one of the most requested emojis – it is the most requested flag emoji. And it’s been rejected by Unicode (the emoji decision panel) for the last three years, despite a number of proposals,” she says.
“We now have access to a lobster emoji, because people suffered ‘frustration and confusion’ at having to use a shrimp or a crab emoji instead. Surely representation for the trans community is more important than a crustacean?”
Fed up, she decided to launch #clawsoutfortrans – a petition and campaign dedicated to queering the lobster emoji to protest the lack of a trans one. (Fun fact! Lobsters can be gynandromorphs – which means they have both male and female reproductive organs!) “We’re going to take it as our symbol until we get the trans emoji we deserve,” Craggs says.
“We now have a lobster emoji, because people suffered ‘frustration and confusion’ at having to use a shrimp or a crab... Surely representation for the trans community is more important than a crustacean?” – Charlie Craggs
Anyone can propose that a new emoji is added, but to do so you have to submit a detailed proposal demonstrating that there is a need for it to the Unicode Consortium – a board made up of reps from Big Tech Companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook.
After a proposal for a trans pride emoji submitted by Google creative Tea Uglow was denied, another was submitted in July 2017. So far, it’s no dice – Ted Eytan, a doctor who worked on the document with Bianca Rey, the Chair of Washington DC’s Trans Pride march, and Monica Helms, the creator of the transgender pride flag, says they’ve heard nothing from Unicode on the status of their proposal – besides one email with questions, which they promptly responded to.
Rey says the need for a trans pride flag emoji is critical considering Donald Trump’s reported plans to curtail trans rights. “It is more important now that we are more visible, especially after the recent article that came out from the New York Times,” she says. “I think about someone who is out in the middle of nowhere who is going through similar emotions I've been having and wanting to reach out and connect but feels like there is no one out there. (Something) as simple as the trans pride flag emoji can play a vital role to connect, to offer support, seek assistance and express a sense of belonging and inclusion.”
Sign the #clawsoutfortrans petition here, and get using those lobster emojis!