Gender symbol

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

Standard symbols[edit]

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 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 (stereotypically associated with women in former centuries).[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]
&#x25CB Circle symbol (U+25CB ). The symbol for a female family member in a pedigree chart.[4]

Related LGBT and scientific 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).

Mercury symbol.svg 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 the traditional symbol of transgender 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]
Gendersign.svg 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+:

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 since the 1970s to represent gay liberation.[5] Today it might also be used by a heterosexual who is aware of the diversity between men and women
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 (neuter).
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.[citation needed]

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 f "Symbolism". LGBTQA+ WebCenter. Eastern Illinois University. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 

External links[edit]