Six Instagram pictures of the artist Ada Ada Ada's nude torso and face in front of a white curtain.

in transitu


Find the Instagram profile here

On Instagram, I post an update from my gender transition every Thursday. The question is: When will Instagram ban my nipples?

The in transitu project is a challenge to the Instagram moderation protocols. The platform has a rule that women's nipples are not allowed to be displayed on pictures, unless they're breastfeeding. However, as a trans woman currently undergoing a gender transition, Instagram does not yet see me as a woman. So each week I put up a picture of myself, where my nipples are visible.

At some point, my selfies will no longer be allowed on the platform, because they are perceived to be belonging to a woman. This will be a joyous occasion, because it means that even the largest image-based social media in the world sees me as a woman. However, it will also be a stark reminder that I have now lost my male privilege.

A selfie of the artist Ada Ada Ada from her in transitu project next to an image of the AI results from that selfie. The results are male, 57% male, female, 99% male and 97% feminine.

Aside from challenging Instagram, I also send the selfie to a series of commercially available gender recognition AIs, e.g. Amazon and Microsoft. The results are posted along with the selfie itself, so the audience can try to make sense of how these AIs (fail to) function.

This project is a continuation of the work started in 2015 by trans activist Courtney Demone. She launched the hashtag campaign #DoIHaveBoobsNow to challenge Instagram's nipple policy with the hopes of changing it. 7 years later, nothing has changed and women's nipples are still pariahs of the platform. In other areas of tech, gender roles are being algorithmically upheld with more "efficiency" than ever, "thanks" to the surge in AI technologies.

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