Snapchat’s new gender-swapping filter is triggering members of the LGBT community who say the technology is transphobic and an insult to non-binary individuals.
Snapchat’s gender-changing filter allows users to see how they look if they swapped their gender to male or female. The filter drastically alters feminine or masculine facial features to turn even the manliest of men into a pillow princess.
RHOA star Kandi Burruss (pictured above and top) was among the celebrities and social media users who tried out the gender-swapping filter with amusing results. “This Snapchat filter is hilarious!!! I really look like a dude! ???” she captioned a video post.
But many in the transgender community say the filter simplifies the “transition” process, which is no laughing matter for them.
“My gender is not a costume,” Bailey Coffman told ABC News. Coffman, a 31-year old MtF transgender from New York, said people who are comfortable with their biological sex should not use the Snapchat filter for their own personal amusement.
“We are essentially the butt of the joke, through cruel and insensitive caricature,” said Maliyah London, another MtF trans.
Others criticized the filter for embracing binary stereotypes by giving users only 2 gender options: male and female.
“While Snapchat’s new filter is a lot of silly fun, there’s a more serious side to it,” writes Arwa Mahdawi in the Guardian. “It’s somewhat ironic that an app that encourages you to play with gender has such a binary view of it.”
And Mashable contributor Sage Anderson said Snapchat’s gender-switching filter “exposes the internet’s casual transphobia” by allowing people to play at swapping sexes with no real-life consequences.
“While you’re having fun posting about your imaginary chiseled jawline or flawless face of makeup, you might want to consider how this filter perpetuates some pretty wack stereotypes before you post your selfie. After all, casual transphobia looks good on no one,” Sage chastised readers.
A youth programs manager at GLSEN’s, told Mashable that, while intended as a “fun” joke, Snapchat is “assuming gender is a binary between men and women.”
MtF trans writer Rose Dommu said the new filter is “not cute” and makes light of the physical, mental, and emotional problems of transitioning.
“My Twitter mutuals don’t go with me to every painful laser hair removal appointment, don’t understand the feeling of waking up three times a night to pee because of Spironolactone’s diuretic properties, don’t shove a needle full of estrogen into their thigh twice a month, haven’t listened to me grapple with the dilemma of whether or not to get facial feminization surgery,” Dommu writes.