Racial Passing Essay

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The term ‘passing’ signifies the actions of an individual who lives either temporarily or full time in an identity to which he or she does not have authentic or legitimate claim. Passing originally stems from ‘racial passing’, where individuals of one race (generally African-American) pass for another (usually Anglo-Saxon). People ‘pass’ for multiple reasons, such as fear of violence and persecution, others may pass to gain rights and benefits they would otherwise not be able to access (Encyclopedia of Gender and Society, 2009). In terms of ‘passing’ in regards to sexuality, traditionally, ‘passing’ has been an action taken by homosexual men and women who pretend to be heterosexual to avoid unwarranted hostility. The phrase “in the closet”…show more content…
People who identify as “either/or” gender are forced to remain silent and get by (pass); hence the notion of passing becomes a form of social control. ‘Passing’ can be seen as a stigma or identity management strategy, a means of developing and maintaining a positive identity that allows these individuals to access privileges afforded to the dominate group. Passing is a prominent issue for the LGBTIQ community due to them being an invisible minority. Sexual minorities have a higher “prevalence of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, substance use, eating problems and suicide ideation and attempts” (Fuller, C, Chang, D, Rubin, R, 2009). These negative psychological outcomes are related from experience and expectation of prejudice and discrimination placed from the dominant group onto the marginalized minority group. The notion of passing is complicated, particularly in terms of gender-identity. To ‘pass’ implies that the individual is not of validity or authenticity in terms of their gender. The term and act of ‘passing’ also sets negative repercussions, Bronstein argues that the act of ‘passing’ as Bornstein (1995) argues, lends itself ‘to silence, invisibility, lies, self-denial and the loss of ones
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