Snapchat this month introduced a filter that lets users visually swap genders, and it’s become a popular shiny new toy that appears to be viewed as an entertaining pastime for the most part.
But for transgenders — or more specifically, those considering a transgender life — the filter could become an influencer once such users see who they could become, The Associated Press reported, adding that it could even be therapeutic.
“There are people who haven’t found themselves yet, and this is a great way to say, ‘This is really affirming for me’ and to take that next step,” Savannah Daniels, 32 — who identified as female after watching episodes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” while a U.S. Navy chaplain’s assistant in Afghanistan — told the AP.
More from the outlet:
Snapchat is not the first face-altering app with such a feature; FaceApp, for instance, has had one for years. But users of the Snapchat filter unveiled the second week of May have noted its high quality. And, of course, the very popularity of Snapchat amplifies the feature further.
Snapchat’s maker, Snap Inc., which has drawn criticism for a
Bob Marley filter some likened to blackface and another that overlaid stereotypically Asian features on users’ photos, commented about its filter in an emailed statement.
“We understand that identity is deeply personal,” the company told the AP. “As we have and continue to explore the possibilities of this technology, our Lens design team is working … to ensure that on the whole these Lenses are diverse and inclusive by providing a wide range of transformative effects.”
What did others have to say?
Jessie Daniels — a City University of New York professor (who’s unrelated to Savannah Daniels), the outlet said, and a digital sociology expert — said the gender-swap filter could influence the thinking of people unfamiliar with the trending term “gender fluidity,” meaning that gender isn’t strictly male or female.
“They get a chance to play with gender in a way that many of us who are LGBTQ have played with gender our whole lifetimes and understand the social construct part of it,” she told the AP, adding that young people could be highly influenced.
The outlet noted a Common Sense Media survey last year that found
44 percent of teenagers use Snapchat as their primary social app.
“I do hope this does help some people better recognize their gender,” Elliott “Ellie” Wheeler, 16 and a sophomore at Michigan’s East Lansing High School, told the AP. Wheeler combines the words “female” and “butch” to identify as a “futch” lesbian, the outlet added.
A dissenting voice
“My gender’s not a costume,” Bailey Coffman, a 31-year-old transgender woman from New York, told the AP. “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. And when certain people post it and write about how silly it is and how goofy they look with this filter, it makes light of the transgender experience.”
Here’s TV show hosts Michael Strahan and Sara Haines trying out the app:
Michael And Sara Try Snapchat’s Gender Swap Filter