Symbols have been used by humans since we existed starting as a means of speaking to one another and that essence carries on to this day. We still use symbols to convey some kind of message and we’re inundated with them throughout our daily lives.
We know the symbols for recycling, for bio-hazard, for hospital or medical, for fire, and millions of others. We don’t even think about it most of the time because they’ve become so ingrained as a part of our “normal” lives and most of the time we will understand that knowing these symbols is important to our own personal well-being. Not knowing to stop at a sign, to not drink a poison, and the list goes on ensures our continued existence.
But what if the greater majority of the world started to realize there are so many other symbols out there that “tell” a story or importance. What if those symbols meant the well-being or continued existence of others but society as a whole failed to recognize them? What if we didn’t even know what they all were?
It’s important that society recognizes our symbols as readily as they do so many others because we are a part of society, we are equal to others, and we are valued. The world has come to see the Rainbow as the international symbol for the LGBT community overall but it’s just an umbrella term for a much wider spectrum of sexuality and gender.
As far as the Gender-Spectrum goes we have a great many symbols and color-schemes associated with us to help identity and unify us as a community. First and foremost we need to understand what the symbols and colors (usually depicted as a flag or incorporated into the symbol) stand for and their individual importance so that we can personally recognize those in our community. That way we can continue to build each other up and broadcast our symbols to the world to be seen.
Though there are many flags and symbols that represent the spectrum of gender, here are some of the popular ones:
One of the most popular versions of the symbol for Transgender is credited to Holly Boswell back in 1993. The image combines the traditional male and female symbols with a struck arrow which is to be a combination of the male and female.
2Rumpus Parable Transgender Symbol
Rumpus Parable updated the original design in 2013 to represent those without gender as well by creating the slash through the middle.
3Transgender Pride Flag
Monica Helms designed the Transgender Pride flag in 1999 with the color scheme that has become representative of the trans community.
4Jennifer Pellinen Transgender Flag – 2002
Jennifer Pellinen updated the design in 2002 in an attempt to illustrate that we are a larger and more diversity community inside the gender spectrum. It has gained some momentum but, by and large, Helms’ design remains the primary and most recognized at this time.
JJ Poole took it one step further by creating a Genderfluid flag wherein each bar or stripe represents something specific.
The first stripe is pink which represents femininity, or feeling female. The second stripe is white, and represents the lack of gender, including agender, or gender neutral. The third stripe is purple and represents a combination of masculinity and femininity including various degrees of androgyny. The fourth stripe is black and represents all other genders, third genders, and pangender. Lastly the final stripe is blue and represents masculinity or feeling male. (Wiki)
Gender symbols for genderfluid are sometimes represented as these to maintain simplicity and allow for quicker and easier identification. For a more comprehensive list of genderfluid symbols, scroll to the last slide.
Intersex is represented with colors that are not necessarily associated with the typical binary of blue = boy and pink = girl but rather using a yellow solid background with a single purple circle – the circle used in the male/female symbols but specifically leaving off the male/female identifiers. The Organisation Intersex International Australia developed the flag design in 2013.
Of course there are variations on the intersex symbol but most commonly you will see this one.
8Gender Queer Flag
Someone who identifies as both binary genders, a combination of genders, or no genders – or someone who, in general, does not abide by the gender binary is gender queer. The flag was created by Marilyn Roxie with a finalized version of it in 2011.
The Non-Binary flag was developed more recently in 2014 by Kye Rowan wherein the yellow is to symbolize a neutrality of gender while white is to be all genders, purple represents a mix of the blue/pink for male/female and black signifies those without gender.
The Neutrois flag has an unknown creator and has a similar thought process for the color scheme. The white acts as the neutral element for those who are neutral, questioning, or simply wish to remain unidentified. The green represents the non-binary while the black represents agender or genderless (Given the white background of the page you may not be able to see the top bar as it is solid white).
Those who are Androgynous typically enjoy remaining in a neutral area as far as appearance and presentation and don’t necessarily want to identify as either gender or may enjoy representing both genders. This is not equated with cross-dressing. The symbols, as with so many, can vary but are commonly seen as these.
12Intersex / Love Symbol / Prince
Although sometimes this is also referred to as the intersex or even sometimes as the antiquated “hermaphrodite” symbol. When Prince died many in the community embraced his Love Symbol and have begun placing it on restroom doors to indicate non-gender specific restrooms. While the story behind it’s creation has varied over the years and we may never know it’s true story, it contains the male and female Mars/Venus symbols with a little flare to it because what is Prince without flare?
13Non Gender Flags
Others who are non-gender wish to identify as agender or nullgender or genderfree (and so forth). Often these identities are under the overall heading of non-binary and have been used interchangeably (whether correctly or not) with Neutrois. There are several flags that are used for the non-gender spectrum – all of which do not have information on who created each one at this time.
14The Trans Feminist / Trans Power Symbol
More recently the raised fist/clenched fist symbol that is commonly associated with fighting for a cause has been incorporated into the traditional transgender symbol. We are fighting for our rights, fighting for our visibility, and fighting for our lives.
Also appearing more recently in response to the anti-trans/bathroom bills an attempt to illustrate that a bathroom sign is open to all genders. While it would be impossible to have a bathroom sign incorporate every gender option this image uses the previously common binary image or male/female and blends the two to show that the bathroom is open to whomever needs to use it.
16Comprehensive Gender Symbol Graphic
While no one expects you to remember each and every flag, color scheme, or symbol it is important to realize there’s so many more variations and they continue to grow and diversify.