Apple’s Gender Neutral Emojis

New gender neutral emojis are a big step forward for inclusivity and representation


photo by Megan Wilson

Megan Wilson, Staff Writer

Emojis have been in our lives from the start of the awkward middle school phase till now. The once simple “:)” has turned into very extravagant faces, animals, food, and everything in between. Back then, it was the simple winky face “;)” to your crush. Now, there is a wide variety of winking or smiling faces to find the perfect one to send to that special someone.

Apple introduced its first set of emojis back in 2008 as part of a free software update for iPhone users in Japan. Over the past decade, Apple has been expanding its emoji library more and more each year. Each Apple product now has over 3,000 emojis to choose from, which can be used on a variety of apps on iPhones. Even though it may seem like everything already has an emoji, Apple will find a way to release a new one. 

Apple recently announced that new designs are going to be released in the newest IOS update, which will include more than new 350 emojis. With this latest update, you are now able to choose between the original male and female versions of the emojis, but also a new gender-neutral option as well. A lot of the new emojis that were released are focused on inclusivity, according to Emojipedia. These gender-neutral emojis are depicted to look similar, by having an above-the-shoulder haircut and a grey-toned outfit that is unlike the male and female emojis.

These new emojis have been met with praise from the LGBTQ community, pleased that there are finally emojis for everyone to feel represented. Aside from the gender-neutral emojis, there are many new ways that you can pair two different people. You can have different pairings of people by hovering above the couple emoji and can pick the pairing that you want it to be.

These new emojis are included in the profession emojis, such as the chef, lawyer, and scientist, just to name a few. Apple has also expanded the options for athlete emojis to include sports such as cycling and basketball. The emoji lineup will also feature people with hearing aids, wheelchairs, and prosthetic legs in order to boost inclusivity. 

 Apple is not the first company to release gender-neutral emojis, but they have a much bigger impact on people than other brands. According to Digital Trends, 82% of American teens now have an iPhone, which will soon all contain these new emojis. Emojis have become a part of our lives, as well as our written language. Emoji keyboards did not always have the male and female versions. It was originally just yellow, circular emoji faces, but the use of emojis blew up so much that Apple released the male and female versions in late 2017.

In the seemingly short span of only two years, Apple has realized the importance of having gender-neutral emojis. An Apple spokesperson stated, “I’m glad to see more people feeling represented by the options on their emoji keyboard, as not everyone feels they fit into the binary gender world.”

It is important for everyone, especially teens, to be able to express themselves. People should be able to use emojis that portray the way they identify. The ability to express yourself online is just as important as in real life. Many teens find it very hard to state their identity without fear of judgment and harassment. With these new emojis being introduced, it is one small step towards helping those not in the gender binary feel supported.