A Member was asked by a client to use a non-binary icon (Figure 1) in a series of icons they were designing.
The goal was to cover the spectrum of genders with the visuals created. In their visuals, the Member had aimed to use an androgynous icon with the so-called ‘male’ icon, paying special attention not to use stereotypical pinks and blues by using a non-stereotypical colour mix (Figure 2).
But there was concern that the client-recommended icon might actually be perceived by some in the LGBTQ2+ community as offensive.
"In our experience, I have to agree with you that Figure 1 is perceived as offensive to the transgender community. Most people in transition want to be identified as male or female (their end goal for transition). For all projects that we have been working on, we would advise our client to avoid using the half-man-half-woman icon.
It is great to see that you are trying to express the identity of someone who may be trapped in the body of a sexuality, but emotionally identify themselves as the opposite sex using colour of pink on the male icon and colour of blue on the female icon (Figure 2).
On some of our projects, we have been asked to use only the "male" or "person" icon to represent all sex to communicate the message for non-gender and all-inclusiveness. So for sure, the solution is not necessarily binary.
In some cases, we have been asked by clients to remove the dress on pictograms to communicate the idea of non-gender and all inclusiveness."
"I think the icon alone doesn’t really mean trans and is more associated with gender neutral bathroom signage.
I think if used in the context of the key frame and being surrounded by traditional male and female icons (female - mixed - male - mixed - female) and the non-stereotype colours it would communicate a better spectrum of non-binary or trans people.
I’d strongly suggest reaching out to a trans activist group for clarification or their thoughts on the matter."
"Most transgender people are not non-binary. Non-binary individuals may identify as gender fluid, a gender, third gender or something else entirely.
I’m hoping that someone who is non-binary or someone who has a family member or friend who is can clarify if this would be offensive. I have seen non-binary individuals use the icon that you posted."
"Non-binary person here!
Absolutely, the binary half man/half woman pictograph is offensive to the non-binary community as it furthers binary notions of gender.
The reality here is that the constraints of having to use the already problematic “bathroom signs” that folks have been working to redesign for ages means you’re sort of stuck. I would work outside of this box. Further, why are we only segmenting folks by gender? What about size? Height? Ability? This requires a more fundamental redesign if the aim is to be truly inclusive. Happy to consult if this member needs me.
I am a firm believer in inclusive practices “nothing about us without us” and so it is essential to consult with the communities we wish to represent."
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