Transgender on Gender-Swapping Snapchat Filter: ‘My Gender Is Not a Costume’

Protesters blow whistles during a transgender march in downtown Zagreb on March 30, 2019. - About 300 people, coming from all over the largely conservative Balkans region, took part in Croatia's first ever transgender march through downtown Zagreb. Organisers say they are sending clear messages of pride and defiance as …

Snapchat’s new gender-changing filter that allows people to view themselves as the opposite sex has offended some members of the transgender community, who argue that their struggle with transitioning is being downplayed by the filter, as it allows users to swap-genders for their own amusement.

“My gender is not a costume,” said a thirty-one-year old transgender woman from New York, Bailey Coffman, according to a recent report by ABC News. Coffman’s remark suggests the notion that people who identify with their biological sex should not be using the Snapchat filter for their own personal entertainment.

The argument stems from a variation of the popular “my culture is not your costume” phrase, which was derived from individuals seeking to accuse people — who are simply going about their lives — of “appropriating” aspects of a culture that is not their own, according to the accuser’s subjective worldview.

What started as a seemingly contrived conflict over Halloween costumes has now appeared to have made its way to Snapchat filters, as some transgender individuals argue that their experiences dealing with gender dysphoria are being minimized now that others can simply change their gender identity for fun with the tap of a button.

Social media users are posting their Snapchat gender-swaps to social media, some of which are comical:

Not everyone considers the new Snapchat filter to be problematic, though, such as one 16-year-old high school student from Michigan, Elliott Wheeler (who goes by the name Ellie), who suggested that the filter may be a productive tool in helping those struggling with gender identity to “better recognize their gender.”

The ABC News report adds that Snapchat maker Snap Inc. released a statement saying that the company’s design team strives to ensure its filters are diverse and inclusive.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.


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