Friday, April 3, 2009

Word of the Gay: "Passing"

"Passing" refers to the ability to be regarded as the gender you identify with or are trying to convey. It is also used for queer people who can pass as heterosexual.


Renee said...

Though I know this is a common term, as a WOC I feel that is so problematic. To us "passing" takes on a completely different connotation. In our community passing is when a POC is so light skinned that they enter white circles and never publicize the fact that they are indeed of color. It has a history of deception based in internalized racism. Even though I know that many in the LBTG community find this term acceptable, I often wonder if they were to put it into the same context of the African American experience would this word continue to be so popular. To me the term passing will always carry an element of deception.

Jere Keys said...

"Passing" is used by various minorities, not just transgender or African American. For a gay man to "pass" he is generally presumed to be straight in public. A disabled person may "pass" as being able. A senior may "pass" as a younger person and thereby avoid age-related discrimination.

Anonymous said...

Passing ? Interesting word for some. Truly is an achievement sought after by the Transsexuals,
back in my was referred too as being "clocked ! Far more upsetting term to say the least. depending on where you are at the time you (are)clocked! Passing.. for some TS's can and does bring on a lot of stress at times in there life.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes! I remember the first time I heard this word years ago. I wrote a while about about the challenges of passing. Sometimes it is not an ability that a person is really happy to be able to claim. You know?

Queers United said...

I definitely hear all of you passing means different things to different communities. I would say though that passing in reference to the trans community is positive, since they are being seen as who they truly are and don't have to worry as much that society will not regard them as their correct gender.

As with black people or gay people it is different. Black people are black, gay people are gay, they shouldn't feel bad about their identity nor feel the need to change, we need to understand why people want to "pass" as more white or straight, and eliminate those barriers that make it harder to just be who you are.

Anonymous said...

sadly even among the trans community can frequently be a dirty word because it implies being something you aren't.

I think it more universally represents the ability to have people perceive what you are trying to present, honestly or otherwise.


Hedo said...

I wouldn't necessarily consider it having the connotation of being something that you aren't except in the context of looking a certain way for any reason OTHER than wanting to express one's identity and have it be correctly perceived. (By 'correctly' of course, I mean that people will actually acknowledge it as a matter of fact rather than having to be told.)
To me, passing is more about how others perceive one's appearance and how it relates to how a man or a woman would usually be expected to look. The whole point is to give the gender cues of appearance and mannerisms so that they are immediately perceived as being of the sex or gender they present, or at least as being very likely to be of the sex or gender presented.

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