Face recognition technology: dangerous implications for trans people?

Gas-Pump2THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — I’m quite sure the potentially dangerous implication of face recognition technology for trans people has crossed our minds a number of times and off the top of my head, I can think of a number of scenarios where the technology unintentionally outs a trans person. But before we can think about this further, it’s getting a real world test in the UK and trans advocates there have sounded an alarm.

UK retailer Tesco is installing face recognition technology at their fueling stations in order to target advertising based on their ages and gender as they wait at their stations.

Trans activist Tara Hewitt is speaking out and warning people that such a scheme can out trans people as they wait to pay for their purchases — sometimes leading to dangerous circumstances, including harassment and violence. In addition, she says the misgendering by a machine could trigger emotional distress and or depression.

Tesco has responded to Hewitt and says the device will be correct ‘most of the time’ but admits there will be occasional mistakes. Tesco is still planning to go ahead with the program. Other retailers in the UK have considered the idea but choose to not go forward with it.


I don’t think “most of the time” is good enough. Being outed by a machine is stuff nightmares are made of. Is it going to take a beating captured on Tesco’s own surveillance cameras before the we see action? Or is this unstoppable technology resulting in another thing we need to protect ourselves from being harmed from?


More from Tara Hewitt: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/11/05/comment-will-trans-customers-be-put-at-risk-by-tesco-minority-report-facial-recognition-machines/


Here’s a transgender feature film that I’d be honored if you watched: “Lexie Cannes” http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0963781332   Or via PayPal: http://www.lexiecannes.com/id13.html

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT is associated with Wipe Out Transphobia: http://www.wipeouttransphobia.com/

Read Lexie Cannes in The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/courtney-odonnell/

Categories: Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

Tags: , , ,

9 replies

  1. telcos staff are not brilliant with trans staff have a few friends who have attended a filling station and have transphobic abuse from staff don’t use the place is the answer

  2. A bit more detail is here (not sure if you went off the Pink News piece or the GayStarNews one. http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-and-trans-bullying-threat-tesco-face-scanners061113

    What i found most alarming, having spoken to Tesco about this, was their utter complacency and the way in which they peddled a pretty inaccurate party line, to effect that, since no data is stored, this did not breach the UK’s Data Protection Laws.

    Sounds like they haven’t read the UK DPA, which relates to PROCESSING, not just storage.

    Apart from that, they simply suggested that i speak to the manufacturer of the system, effectively washing their hands of the entire business.

  3. any place that uses face recognition technology doesn’t get my business

  4. “UK retailer Tesco is installing face recognition technology at their fueling stations in order to target advertising based on their ages and gender as they wait at their stations.”

    Um this sounds like an awful idea even if it worked 100% of the time.

  5. Generelly, this whole face recognition thing is the shittiest bullshit I can imagine. “Gender conform ad” – WHAT THE FUCK??????

    Time to smash some technology…

  6. Great, many company are now using this technology to keep their business safe & secure.


  1. Tesco caught in a hypocritical pickle as employees mock trans customers online | THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT by Lexie Cannes

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