Two things were impossible to escape on social media this weekend: the feud between James Charles and Tati Westbrook and Snapchat’s newest filter, which allows users to see themselves as either hypermasculine or feminine — essentially, it’s a filter that changes your gender presentation. Sound familiar?
All weekend, as I attempted to tweet about gay orgies, Mother’s Day, and Game of Thrones, every time I opened the app I was confronted by photos of my mutuals, mostly gay men, filtered to look like women or hypermasculine men. The tone of these tweets was largely humorous: “LOL, look what I’d look like if I was more traditionally masculine, trade alert! Haha, look what I’d look like as a woman! Isn’t that funny, me, a man, looking like a woman!”
And nowhere amidst all these selfies did I see any of these folks, who for the most part fall under the category of progressive liberal metropolitan queers, practicing any self-awareness about what posting these filtered photos and videos might mean to their transgender and gender nonconforming friends and followers.
Because that’s the thing: this filter is literally an instant transition, and the humorous way I’m seeing it shared is...not cute. 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. They don’t understand the pain and endurance required for trans people to get themselves even close to their ideal presentation — so no, I certainly don’t want to look into my phone screen and see what some app developer has decided the most perfectly feminine version of me is. Nor do I want to see memes poking fun at the very real violence trans folks face.
Why my girl always playing with these Snapchat filters pic.twitter.com/W9yw2ESgyr
— Chris GQ Perry (@ChrisGQPerry1) May 11, 2019
Before you post your next manipulated selfie, maybe take a second to wonder: is it funny to imagine what you’d look like as a woman? Because that thought is all that gets some folks out of bed in the morning. The idea that we can alter our bodies to more closely align with our perception of ourselves is very serious to some people, so your funny tweet about how fish you look with a hairless, shaved down chin and luscious locks might not be funny to everyone. It might, in fact, remind some of us of how hard it is to achieve even half of what you’ve been able to construct with a single swipe and that most people in the world still see our attempt as something to jeer at. Stick with the bunny ears.