The phone application FaceApp is one of the newest crazes circulating around social media. The app allows users to upload a photo and modify it in ways that make them “hotter,” older, or with a swapped gender.
For transgender users, the app has elicited confusion, hope and even fear. According to a report from Vocativ, some transgender users are using the app to see what they look like as the other gender.
One user, like Chris Lowance, identifies as “genderqueer/trans-feminine” despite being born a man. When using the “old” filter, he began to worry that “it’s going to get harder for me to be seen as ambiguous or femme as I age, really.”
The app already received criticism in April after its AI was accused of “racism” for lightening skin tones in order to “beautify” the user. FaceApp founder and CEO Yaroslav Goncharov apologized for the feature and removed it.
Twitter users discussed their experience with FaceApp, with one trans writer warning others against using it.
FaceApp doesn't make you trans, but putting on a gendered filter and crying about the picture probably does
— ✨ Mel Stone ✨ (@melstonemusic) April 25, 2017
I would advise against trans people using the Face App btw. It will definitely fuck with you.
— Katelyn Burns (@transscribe) May 1, 2017
that face app meme reinforces limited ideas of gender so please stop sharing it. trans ppl are pointing this out-they shouldn't have to.
— Lucinda Allen (@tomboyfemme) April 27, 2017
Intersex educator and activist Pidgeon Pagonis criticized the app for propping “up the false notion that there is a clearly discernible binary opposite to one’s gender.”
Software like FaceApp, Pagonis argues, encourage the “violent” gender binary and are part of the reason why genderqueer individuals “are often forced to endure unnecessary intersex genital mutilation.”