LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The lobster has become an unlikely ally in the transgender community’s push to be represented by a pictoral icon, as calls mount for greater online and media visibility.
British activist Charlie Craggs created the hashtag #ClawsOutForTrans to protest that the red crustacean was among 157 new emojis launched in February - while the blue, pink and white transgender flag was not.
“It is important, when there is so much discussion on the internet around trans issues, that there is an emoji to represent this,” Jennie Kermode, chairwoman of Trans Media Watch, a charity promoting positive transgender media images.
Transgender rights are in the spotlight, with activists using U.S. courts to lobby for access to bathrooms of their choice, and criticising the casting of non-transgender actors, like Scarlett Johansson in gender fluid roles.
There are almost 3,000 different emojis worldwide, from smiley faces to thumbs up, but none for the transgender community, despite the submission of a proposal for a flag symbol.
“Emojis are a way for the world to connect, and trans people shouldn’t be left out of the conversation,” Craggs said in a petition on change.org for a transgender emoji, which had attracted about 900 signatures on Wednesday.
“Surely we deserve the same rights you have afforded crustaceans?”
Unicode, a Silicon Valley-based coding consortium which approves about 100 new emojis every year, was not immediately available to comment.
Craggs said lobsters are well suited to represent a community that does not adhere to strict gender norms because they can contain both male and female characteristics.
The hijacking of the new lobster emoji could spread, with some activists carrying inflatable lobsters to a Brighton Pride rally in the south of England last month.
“We are rarely represented properly or equally anywhere,” said Emma Bailey, founder of British charity Wipe Out Transphobia, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“So every little battle to have trans people represented somewhere new is always going to be worthwhile.”
Reporting by Molly West; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.