Just Read and adding comments from our experience: “We Just Got 230 New Emojis, But Still No Trans Flag” – VICE

On this day after World Emoji Day, thanks to Anna Iovine (@AnnaRoseIovine) and @Vice for publishing this story on the transgender pride flag emoji.

I’m adding commentary, background, and a not-yet published quote from one of our global collaborators, the awesome Tea Uglow (@teaelleu).

The following quote from the piece is correct (and thanks for the link to our work):

I’m definitely not the first person to point out this lack of representation. Trans activists Bianca Rey and Ted Eytan began a campaign to get the trans flag added in 2017. And activist Charlie Craggs created a Change.org petition that has amassed thousands of signatures. In response to their efforts, Unicode co-founder and president Mark Davis has said, “We can’t have an emoji to represent every single possible group of people in the world. We have to make some choices.”Source: We Just Got 230 New Emojis, But Still No Trans Flag – VICE

This statement is also correct:

There is one glimmer of hope here: the trans flag is on the “short list” for possible 2020 emojis. That doesn’t mean it will be included…Source: We Just Got 230 New Emojis, But Still No Trans Flag – VICE

I actually believe in its draft candidate state that the symbol will be included, however, it’s not included until it’s included.

Even though Twitter, Facebook, and Whatsapp have gone ahead and added the symbol to parts of their platforms, this is not the same as the symbol being included in the Unicode defined character set.

Comments on Emojis and representing all groups of humans

I have a difference of opinion with regard to Mark Davis’ statement above. It was said to me by an individual that we’re witnessing the evolution of human language in emoji. I agree, and with that frame, the idea that language should be inclusive of some humans and exclusive of others is a difficult one to accept in 2019.

At the same time, I feel as a constituent of @Unicode’s work* that we are all served by a robust proposal process with transparency and integrity.

With that in mind, I’m sharing commentary from Tea that she offered to Unicode about our experience, with her permission to share:

…this is a really positive letter for us to receive at an incredibly taxing time for the community. Thank you.

It has, if anything, turned more political and darker since we first got in touch with Mark Davis & Unicode in 2016 (what feels like forever ago).

For comedy value more than anything, I am attaching the proposal that we first put to Google’s leadership that later became the initial ‘unfinished’ proposal – so you can see we’ve come along way! – it’s been a difficult journey. Ted has been the most extraordinary ally in keeping this moving and pushing – and I am not sure we thank him regularly enough. Bianca and Vigdis worked so hard for so long. Olly and the Nailit crew have also lit a fire under the issue with their populist approach in the UK – but we have repeatedly fallen short without explanation.

So it is wonderful to hear that you haven’t actually found dissenting voices within Unicode Emoji Committee. Likewise I agree that having Google and Microsoft showing real commitment will help.

We do understand that it is actually easier to agree on an otter than a symbol for a marginalised community – and that Unicode may be wary of raising the hopes of other marginalised communities.

The only feedback would be that when those communities come with their proposal that they are treated distinctly from corporation-sponsored groups or individuals requesting less emotive emoji. The issue for us has been that the symbol proposed is our only visual representation in the world – and it has not really been afforded much dignity. We’re not asking for a pizza slice or a fire hydrant.

We are probably not the last community in the world who will request this sort of representation – and it might be worth Unicode considering a protocol for ‘minority’ concerns wherein there is a more consistent and transparent chain of communication. Even when the communication is one of regret.

That doesn’t seem to be an active process and it would make a huge difference for future petitioners.

Best wishes and HUGE thank you’s.Tea Uglow, email communication, Feb 13, 2019

Come on, we’ve even got a banjo.Source: We Just Got 230 New Emojis, But Still No Trans Flag – VICE

  • I am not in any way affiiliated with the Unicode consortium, its member companies, and have been involved in this work representing myself, using my own personal resources

Transgender Pride Flag Emoji – Adopted by Unicode January, 2020 – Information for Media

Ted Eytan, MD