Passing

In historical and colloquial usage, “passing” was originally understood as a form of imposture in which members of a marginalized group presented themselves as members of a dominant group. African Americans passing for white, for example, or Jews passing for gentiles, were attempting to achieve the appearance of equality or to neutralize the stigma of those racialized and religious identities. Passing, as a cultural practice, has also signified in the arenas of gender and sexuality, with men passing as women, women passing as men, transgender people passing as their chosen gender, and gay or lesbian people passing as heterosexual. Comparatively little attention, however, has been given to the phenomenon of individuals passing as either disabled or nondisabled.

Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary definition for “passing” addresses ethnicity, religion, and sex as the categories through which an individual might pass for something he or she presumably is not. Yet the slipperiness …

This essay may be found on page 135 of the printed volume.

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