Derived from astrological symbols
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 also denoting elements in alchemy, specifically the metals iron and copper.
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).
|Mars symbol (U+2642 ♂). The symbol for a male organism or man.|
|Venus symbol (U+2640 ♀). The symbol for a female organism or woman.|
Related LGBT and scientific symbols
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2010)|
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).
|From 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.|
|Another 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+:
|⚢ (U+26A2): Double female sign, sometimes used as a female homosexual symbol|
|⚣ (U+26A3): Double male sign, sometimes used as a male homosexual symbol|
|⚤ (U+26A4): Interlocked male and female sign, occasionally used as a heterosexual symbol|
|⚦ (U+26A6): Male with stroke sign, used as a symbol for transgender.|
|⚨ (U+26A8): Vertical male with stroke sign. It means ‘other’ gender.|
|⚩ (U+26A9): Horizontal male with stroke sign. It also means ‘other’ gender.|
|⚪ (U+26AA): Medium white circle base, used as a symbol for asexuality, sexless or genderless|
|⚲ (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.|
Public restroom pictograms
Standard AIGA symbols
- continuing medieval (11th century) symbols known from Byzantine manuscripts, possibly with precedents in horoscopic papyri of Late Antiquity (late 4th century).
- The Origin of the Male and Female Symbols of Biology, William T. Stearn, Taxon, Vol. 11, No. 4 (May, 1962), pp. 109-113
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