The LGBTQ+ sphere is a particularly interesting case of self-categorization and compartmentalization. Analyzing gender identity vs. expression, romantic attraction vs. sexuality, and gender vs. sex have led to the defining of many new concepts. One thing is certain: the traditional symbols for “male” and “female” are no more useful than the binary distinction they represent, not even in their more recently remixed forms. Here I imagine a future improved system of symbols to represent a person’s multivariate identity, at least regarding gender, sex, and sexuality. Gender identity, biological sex, gender expression, romantic attraction, and sexuality are all represented in this system, with some extra modifiers: asexuality and polyamory. The system retains remnants of the binary but offers participation in it as an option rather than a mandate, making it both transitional and radical. Identity, however, is far more nuanced than this system can represent. This is simply the first step toward a visual system that can represent a complex person at a glance—an experiment to see if it could even be done.
Caleb Peters is a 22-year-old BFA graphic design student at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. At age 12 he discovered that graphic design was his passion and never faltered from it. He also believes in the power of activism and frequently participates in activist efforts to support the LGBTQ+ population. Caleb is the creative director at Zelda Universe, a graphic designer and marketing consultant with the Caldwell County Democratic Party in Lenoir, NC, and a graphic artist for Appalachian State University’s Office of Multicultural Student Development.