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Dis-playing Gender: The Ludic Value of Gender-Swap Apps
  • Francesco Piluso
Francesco Piluso
Universita degli Studi di Torino Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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An increasing number of AI-based gender-swap applications have become a popular trend in our social media platforms and communities, rising controversial issues beyond their apparently playful intent. The primary ludic function informing the use/consumption of such apps opens to further signification and valorization of the produced images. In many cases, the portrait pictures, modified through a system of filters, assume an existential and utopic value for (transgender and nonbinary) users who have the possibility to reimagining and reperforming their gender identity. At the same time, the social availability and disposability of such images risk to trivialize the subjective and highly complex process of sexual and gender transition undergone by many people on their own material body in the real life. The aim of this paper is to point out the ambivalences and the possibilities opened by gender-swap apps for what concerns the issue of gender identity. Through the analysis of a corpus of promotional messages and users’ responses to the gender-swap apps, it is argued that these trans-faces, far from operating a flawless passing from a gender to the other, constantly dis-play the social construction and deconstruction of sexual and gender binary identities.