A pregnant man, a multiracial handshake and a face that cannot bear to watch are some of the emojis that will hit devices over the next year, according to a draft list published by the Unicode Consortium, which approves icons for use.
The new emojis, illustrated by Emojipedia to celebrate World Emoji Day on Saturday, all but complete the consortium’s drive to offer masculine, feminine and gender-neutral versions of every available emoji, as well as a selection of skintones.
Trans and non-binary pregnancies will now be represented in the emoji set, thanks to two new gender options for the “pregnant woman” emoji, while “person with crown” joins “prince” and “princess” for gender-neutral royalty.
The additions, which follow a similar update to the “bearded person” emoji that allowed users to choose between a masculine and feminine bearded face, “will mean that nearly all emojis can have default a gender-neutral option, with choice to use a woman or man where relevant”. said Jeremy Burge, the chief emoji officer of the reference site Emojipedia.
A few emojis remain without a gender-neutral option, largely in cases where it is unclear what an appropriate gender-neutral approach entails. The two dancer emojis, for instance, depict a male disco dancer and a female flamenco dancer: options under discussion include offering identically attired versions of each for other genders (allowing men to depict themselves dazzling in a red dress, for instance); offering gender-appropriate alternatives (with a new male flamenco dancer); or, the preferred option, deciding on a dancing style to offer in a gender-neutral version. Emojipedia has suggested breakdancing.
Elsewhere, the draft list contains support for handshakes between two hands with different skintones, hands making a heart-shape, and additional faces, such as “peeking eye”, “holding back tears” and “saluting”. There are also 20 new icons, including coral, a playground slide, a crutch, an X-ray and an empty battery.
Unicode’s process involves the draft icons being opened up for comment before being approved for use in September of each year. From there, it is up to the device manufacturers to decide when to make the emojis available to users. Apple, for instance, introduced the most recent emoji in a software update this February, tweaking the “syringe” emoji to remove the blood in celebration of the Covid vaccine.
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