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Apple’s new gender-neutral emojis are important for non-binary people

Apple’s new gender-neutral emojis are important for non-binary people

Apple’s new gender-neutral emojis are important for non-binary people
November 15
15:43 2019

New gender neutral emojis have been released in Apple’s iOS 13.2 software update on Oct. 28. 

Apple’s new update has a large focus on creating more inclusivity and representation among emojis. This includes gender neutral emojis as well as emojis with disabilities. 53 new gender-neutral emojis are designed so non-binary folks will no longer feel the pressure to choose between a male or female. Emojis doing sign language, emoji people in wheelchairs, a blind emoji with a walking stick, a seeing eye dog and prosthetic limbs are also featured in order to include those with disabilities. 

The new gender-neutral emojis are an important step when it comes to inclusivity for the non-binary community. The non-binary community is largely left out of conversations, leaving them feeling invisible and misunderstood. Many people are uneducated about the non-binary community and are unaware about the reality of their existence, due to the lack of representation.

While it may seem slight to some, the inclusion of gender-neutral emojis will help shed light on this community and even spark important conversations. Representation is crucial when it comes to helping non-binary folks feel validated and seen.

People with disabilities also deserve more representation as they are often left in the dark. Society focuses mainly on able-bodied individuals in the media rather than representing those with disabilities. These misunderstood members of our world need to finally have their time to shine and be seen. 

In this predominately cis society, non-binary people face struggles on a daily basis. Whether it’s being misgendered, being forced to hide their true identity or being harassed, non-binary people deal with so much more than most people realize. Those who identify as non-binary and transgender are also more likely to be victims of bullying and physical abuse. Because of the daily struggles non-binary and transgender people go through, they are much more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than cisgender people. 

Those who identify as non-binary have always existed, but the language for them hasn’t. As humans learn more and our language continues to grow, we are now beginning to have the words to identify this community. 

Jeffery Marsh, an activist and author that identifies as non-binary put it best when he said, “While the words we use to describe ourselves have changed over time, we have always been here.” 

Though these new emojis show progress for the non-binary and transgender community, there are still more steps that can be made. A gay pride flag exists as an emoji, however there is still no transgender flag, or any other flags that represent all of the LGBTQ community.

Besides the small step that these emojis bring, progress also needs to be made politically in order to keep the transgender and non-binary community safe. There are currently no federal laws that clearly prohibit  discrimination against transgender people. With more representation and conversations about the needs for this community, we can earn them the basic human rights they deserve.

To those who are not a part of the LGBTQ community, these new emojis may seem very minuscule and irrelevant. But, because non-binary folks have been left in the dark for so long in terms of representation, even the slightest bit of inclusion can feel like the giant spotlight they deserve and if that comes in the form of emojis, so be it. 

Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas

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Sara McNiel

Sara McNiel

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