Tag Archive for: mtf

FaceApp – gender recognition

‘Young’ Matt

Everyone’s doing it at the moment – seeing how they would look ‘old’ or ‘young’ with FaceApp, the image-altering app from Russian company Wireless Lab.

Firstly, what an incredibly clever app it is! But how many of you have noticed that when it scans your picture and processes your face, that it decides for itself what gender you are? You don’t get a choice!

For a trans person this is highly significant. Often our equivalent of ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ is ‘Do I pass?’ (as male, female, non binary etc).

Even before transition, I was very often gendered male, so I thought I’d put the app to the test. Digging out some old photos of me before transition and testosterone, I was genuinely surprised with the results.

Apart from a couple of pictures when I was very young (slightly more girly hair I’m guessing) the app still decided I was male, even before testosterone.

Me at 30 and 9 or 10 years old. In both these pre-transition pictures FaceApp has automatically given me its male options. I can add a beard to either of them – not available for ‘female’ pictures


Yes!!! What a result huh?

However, I’m still unsure if I think the app’s automatic ‘gender detection’ is amazing or absolutely terrible for trans people. It could be a lovely way to test whether you pass, and very affirming when you see yourself starting to pass in your preferred gender as your transition progresses. But it could also be devastating and highly triggering for those who don’t pass in their preferred gender or are non-binary, causing increased dysphoria. And this could potentially cause harm.

A more inclusive developer might have given users the option to enter the gender themselves. Possibly even included a non-binary/gender neutral option too. And woah, what about any cis people who might find themselves being misgendered by the app! Ahggggg! Now I can’t see them being very happy, can you?

‘Old’ Matt

What are your experiences with this when using FaceApp?