Gender symbol

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A gender symbol denotes the sex of an organism or characterizes an agent by gender.

The two standard gender symbols denoting male ♂ and female ♀ are derived from astrological symbols, denoting the classical planets Mars and Venus, respectively. These symbols have been in use since the Renaissance[1] also denoting elements in alchemy, specifically the metals iron and copper.

They were first used to denote the effective sex of plants (i.e. sex of individual in a given crossbreed, since most plants are hermaphroditic) by Carolus Linnaeus in 1751.[2]

The shape of the Mars symbol has been likened to an iron-tipped spear (i.e. a weapon mainly used by men) and shape of the Venus symbol to a bronze mirror or a distaff (stereotypically associated with women in former centuries).

♀Venus symbol (U+2640 ). The symbol for a female organism or woman.
♂Mars symbol (U+2642 ). The symbol for a male organism or man.

LGBT culture[edit]

Numerous variations of gender symbols have been developed in the context of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) culture since the 1990s. Some of these symbols have been adopted into Unicode beginning with version 4.1 (2005).

Mercury symbol.svgFrom the symbol of Mercury (U+263F ). This symbol is used to indicate a virgin female (for example, in genetic analysis). Also used in botany to indicate flower with both male and female reproductive organs. The Mercury symbol has also been increasingly claimed by non-binary transgender people for their use, being a gender symbol available in Unicode on most computers.
⚥From the female and male symbols (U+26A5 ). Intersex or transgender.
Gendersign.svgAnother transgender symbol, a combination of the male and female sign with a third, combined arm representing non-binary transgender people (Unicode: U+26A7 ).

Other gender symbols in Unicode and table 4.1+:

Female homosexuality symbol.svg (U+26A2): Double female sign, sometimes used as a female homosexual symbol
Male homosexuality symbol.svg (U+26A3): Double male sign, sometimes used as a male homosexual symbol
Heterosexuality symbol.svg (U+26A4): Interlocked male and female sign, occasionally used as a heterosexual symbol
Transgender symbol 1.svg (U+26A6): Male with stroke sign, used as a symbol for transgender.
U+26A8.svg (U+26A8): Vertical male with stroke sign. It means ‘other’ gender.
U+26A9.svg (U+26A9): Horizontal male with stroke sign. It also means ‘other’ gender.
Asexual symbol.svg (U+26AA): Medium white circle base, used as a symbol for asexuality, sexless or genderless
Gender-Symbol Neutrois Alternative dark transparent Background.png (U+26B2): Neuter. This is in fact the shape of the original (medieval) "Venus" symbol (depicting a hand mirror), the additional horizontal bar being of modern date.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ continuing medieval (11th century) symbols known from Byzantine manuscripts, possibly with precedents in horoscopic papyri of Late Antiquity (late 4th century).
  2. ^ The Origin of the Male and Female Symbols of Biology, William T. Stearn, Taxon, Vol. 11, No. 4 (May, 1962), pp. 109-113

External links[edit]