Are Gender Swap Apps Offensive or Funny in a Gender Sensitive World?

Social media gives us freedom. Now gender swap apps let us see how we would look as the opposite gender. In a gender sensitive world, are they offensive? 

If you are relatively active on social media, as most of us are, you will no doubt have seen the latest apps and trends which allows you to gender swap and change your face to look like the opposite gender.

So, a woman could twist her appearance to see how she looks as a man. And a man can see how he would appear as a woman. This is called gender swap. It’s something which people do as a laugh. Something they do to fill five minutes of their day.

Is it just a game?

At face value, it seems like good fun. Something to pass the time. Maybe have a good giggle at, but we live in very gender sensitive times. With that in mind, are these apps and fun games actually offensive, deep down?

It probably seems like a ridiculous question, because it’s just a game, right? The thing is, if you’re someone genuinely struggling with your gender identity, and you feel that you want to have an identity, then these types of games belittle your struggle.

[Read: What it means to be non-binary and how it can change your life]

There are many people out there who are happy to be non-binary, i.e. they don’t conform with gender stereotypes and they don’t necessarily refer to themselves as male or female. Many of these people are very happy and comfortable with who they are. There are just as many who aren’t quite sure how to feel or say about their gender.

These people are in a period of confusion and need support. They don’t need to have their struggle belittled in an app which allows a woman to grow a beard and a man to suddenly have the features of an attractive woman.

The great gender swap debate

I decided to pitch this idea to my friends. I wanted to see whether I was being ridiculously sensitive about an app which was just designed for fun. Or was there something deeper within it?

Just for the record, I class myself as female. I have no issues with gender identity. But I wanted to see how this might feel for the many people out there who aren’t so sure, or who want to find a route towards no gender identity being forced upon them.

Most of my friends laughed at my assumptions of offense from the gender swap apps and games. Telling me that it was crazy anyone would find a simple app upsetting, but a few agreed.

[Read: The perks and un-perks of coming out of the closet]

I took it a step further and asked a friend of mine who defines as non-binary. They told me that while they weren’t necessary offended by the app, finding it quite amusing if truth be told, they could see how some people who hadn’t yet decided on their own identity may find it troublesome.

If you delve into this argument, you can see why.

A more modern issue is being faced

In the past, we’ve been focused on the sexuality argument. Are you gay, straight, or bisexual? That is a question that everyone seems to ask themselves, or did in the past. Nowadays you don’t need to put a label on your sexuality. You’re free to be whoever you want to be. Love whoever you want to love.

We have come a long way in terms of recognizing different sexualities as society’s norm. We still have a little further to go. When it comes to gender issues, we have a long, long way to go.

There aren’t as many people who are as accepting of non-binary individuals, transgender individuals, or anything else. Because we haven’t yet accepted it as a social ‘norm.’

Hopefully one day that will be the case, and choosing to be whatever gender you want to be, or no gender at all, will be perfectly acceptable in the eyes of everyone on the planet. Despite that, we’re not quite there.

So, with gender swap apps all the rage at the moment, are we making light of a very serious issue? One which countless people are struggling with as we speak. [Read: Definition of queer – What does the Q in LGBTQ really mean?]

Taking it at face value

Of course, it could be that we’re all just being a little too serious and taking offense at something not designed to cause discomfort or upset. A game is a game, right? In the past, we had games which allowed us to see how we would look as an animal, and we laughed at it.

Perhaps the reason we laughed is because nobody *that I know of* actually defines themselves as an animal of any type and wants to be recognized as so!

Making a game or an app out of something which is actually socially sensitive at the current time may not have been the wisest move. Maybe we all just need to lighten up a little and laugh at our appearance in the app when we’re shown to look completely different.

Surely it’s funny to see yourself with a huge beard and bushy eyebrows? Or, hilarious to see yourself with lipstick and a Bambi-eyed expression? They say that humor is individual. Maybe you find it funny, and it’s just me that doesn’t!

The point hidden behind gender swap apps and games is just as sensitive as jokes made in the ‘80s or ‘90s about those with a so-called different sexuality. At that time, we weren’t as educated on free choice. Because it was something relatively new to us as a society, we joked about it because it made us uncomfortable.

The good news is that all of this came before the big enlightening. Before we realized that we needed to accepted that people are different. Accept that it is personal choice to love someone or not, regardless of what type of reproductive organs they have!

The same argument can be said about gender roles and stereotypes. Many people make jokes about or make apps about it, because it causes discomfort. Not everyone understands it. But why does everyone need to understand it?

If it doesn’t pertain to you, if it’s not something you struggle with, simply accept its presence in the world and move on with your day. It doesn’t need to make you feel uncomfortable if it’s not affecting you. [Read: How being sexualized can make or break you]

Let’s be more sensitive to differences

Whether you’re currently deciding how you feel about gender roles or not, we must accept the fact that games and apps should be a little more sensitive to those who may be struggling with certain issues.

These apps were never intended to cause upset, and for most people they won’t. How do you know that for the odd one or two, this type of gender swap app won’t be the reason they feel down that day, or it won’t be the reason they decide to hide who they truly are. Because they fear someone will laugh or judge them.

Becoming more tolerant is the world’s aim which means being sensitive to differences.

[Read: Why we all need to get on board with being sex positive]

If you have played the gender swap games and apps, you probably laughed. I’ll admit, I laughed when I saw myself with a huge grey beard. But stop and think about how others may feel about it.

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