Gender symbol

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A gender symbol denotes the gender of an organism.

Standard symbols[edit]

The two standard sex 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 Carl Linnaeus in 1751.[2] They are still used in scientific publications to indicate the sex of an individual, for example of a patient.[3] Pedigree charts published in scientific papers now more commonly use a square for male and a circle for female.[4]

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 (associated with women in the past).[citation needed]

♂ Mars symbol (U+2642 ♂). The symbol for a male organism or man.
♀ Venus symbol (U+2640 ♀). The symbol for a female organism or woman.
□ Square symbol (U+25A1 □). The symbol for a male family member in a pedigree chart.[4] A triangle is also often used.
&#x25CB Circle symbol (U+25CB ○). The symbol for a female family member in a pedigree chart.[4]

Derived symbols[edit]

Numerous variations of gender symbols have been developed in the context of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) culture since the 1970s.[5] 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. Mercury is one traditional symbol used by intersex people; a usage that derives from Hermaphroditus of Greek mythology.[5]
⚥ From the female and male symbols (U+26A5 ⚥). Intersex[citation needed] or transgender.[5]

Other gender symbols in Unicode and table 4.1+:

Female homosexuality symbol.svg (U+26A2): Double female sign, often used to symbolize lesbianism.[5]
Male homosexuality symbol.svg (U+26A3): Double male sign, used since the 1970s to represent gay men.[5]
Heterosexuality symbol.svg (U+26A4): Interlocked male and female sign used to indicate heterosexual relations.[6][7][8][9]
Transgender symbol 1.svg (U+26A6): Male with stroke sign, used as a symbol for transgender.

Public restroom pictograms[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ continuing medieval (11th century) symbols known from Byzantine manuscripts, possibly with precedents in horoscopic papyri of Late Antiquity (late 4th century)[citation needed].
  2. ^ Stearn, William T. (May 1962). "The Origin of the Male and Female Symbols of Biology". Taxon. 11 (4): 109–113. doi:10.2307/1217734. 
  3. ^ Zhigang, Zhigang; et al. (25 September 2009). "A HIV-1 heterosexual transmission chain in Guangzhou, China: a molecular epidemiological study". Virology Journal. BioMed Central. 6 (148): Figure 1. doi:10.1186/1743-422X-6-148. Retrieved 31 December 2015. (Mars male gender symbol) indicates male; (female Venus gender symbol) indicates female 
  4. ^ a b c Schott, G D (24 Dec 2005). "Sex symbols ancient and modern: their origins and iconography on the pedigree". BMJ. British Medical Journal. 331 (7531): 1509–1510. doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7531.1509. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Symbolism". LGBTQA+ WebCenter. Eastern Illinois University. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links[edit]