September 30, 2020 | 3:14pm
A gender-neutral Santa Claus is coming to town.
In an apparent continuation of their digital-diversity campaign, Apple debuted the new Santa emoji with the iOS 14.2 beta release Wednesday, Emojipedia reports. The non-binary Saint Nick is part of a batch, approved by the Unicode Consortium, of 117 emoticons, many of which aim to make online discourse more inclusive.
The virtual Father Christmas will swap his signature beard for a clean-shaven, more androgynous look. The X-mas mascot’s makeover comes in the wake of a survey by logo creator GraphicSprings, which revealed that 19% of Americans believe that the big man in red should in fact be neither man nor woman.
However, some view Santa’s new identity as part of the so-called War on Christmas, alongside other battles like shaming people for saying “Merry Christmas” and the PC reboots of the Yuletide classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
In one incident from 2019, holiday traditionalists flocked to the defense of a woman who was doxxed over calling him “Father Christmas” instead of just Santa.
“This gender-neutral stuff is way out of hand,” fumed one Yule die-hard.
Along with the Santa option, the Apple emoji lineup also features new skin tone variations, a much-hyped transgender flag and tuxedo and bridal gown options for both men and women.
The inclusive images drew many positive reactions on Twitter.
Controversial add-ons aside, users can enjoy new pictograms of a beaver, bubble tea, a plunger, feeding bottles, a ninja, an anatomical heart and more.
The collection will be available on the iPhone, iPad and watchOS. They may also be part of the launch next month, according to the Daily Mail.
If that wasn’t enticing enough, the Unicode Consortium also recently announced the launch of emoji version 13.1, whose selection will range from “heart on fire” to “face with spiral eyes” in an apparent homage to the tumultuous 2020. However, they likely won’t debut until 2021.