Just when we thought Snapchat filters couldn’t get any wilder, developers release something unthinkable: a gender swap filter.
Although the filter released earlier this month, it continues to make waves across the internet. Some are embracing the fun by making hilarious lip sync videos or seeing what their favorite Game of Thrones characters look like as the opposite sex.
However, this new filter isn’t all fun and games. In less than two weeks after launch, problems abound for this seemingly innocent attempt by Snapchat.
Mixed Feelings From The Trans Community
First and foremost, this filter poses mixed feelings for the transgender community. For some, it provides a view into visual representation to their identity. For people who struggle with gender dysphoria or those who are on the fence about transitioning, Snapchat’s new tool could lead to self-discovery and therapeutic comfort.
However, others feel that all of the jokes and comments from people using the filter makes light of the transgender experience. For example, 31-year-old Bailey Coffman said in an interview, “My gender’s not a costume. This story that I feel is very real. I lost a lot to be who I am, and I fought really hard for the body that I’m in.” Furthermore, seeing people use this filter “for fun” can detrimentally impact trans youth by adding to the humiliation and invalidation they already experience. Whether intentional or not, Snapchat is perpetuating trans erasure and the transphobic views of our society.
Perpetuating Gender Stereotypes
The gender swap filter holds additional problems within its programming, though. Mainly, the very way that the filter projects each gender supports societal stereotypes. The filter’s “male lens” portrays users with short hair, a square jaw, and stubble. The female version smooths out skin, adds makeup, and lengthens hair.
Snapchat forces these “desirable traits” of each sex. Showing how men and women should present themselves harms more than it helps. Although Snapchat claims this new filter is all about self-expression, all it really does is push an ever-shrinking spectrum of view. The app also pushes the idea of a gender barrier, and the company essentially tells us there’s only one way to exist for each gender.
Potential Safety Concerns
Since Snapchat allows users to save images, the possibilities with this filter are endless. People are already discovering the “fun” by posting their gender swap photos on dating apps like Tinder.
While this may seem like innocent fun for the most part, it’s only fun and games until someone gets hurt. As with any technology, there’s always the potential for predators to use this as a new way to lure victims. Since Snapchat has no plans to remove the filter, I feel like it’s just a matter of time before someone uses this humor for harm.
All of these concerns are not just “snowflake cries” or conspiracy theories; these are three very real problems all created by an app. While modern technology is amazing, it comes with a hefty price tag in times like these.
Feature Image via Unsplash