Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964517 | Print ISBN: 9781412909167 | Online ISBN: 9781412964517| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The term passing signifies the actions of an individual who lives temporarily or full-time in an identity to which he or she is seen as not having an authentic or legitimate claim. People may pass because of fear of persecution, such as a gay man working in a blue-collar job who creates fictive girlfriends so as to avoid homophobic violence. Other people may pass to gain rights and benefits they would otherwise not be able to access, such as racial minorities who pass as white. Passing also may be adopted for criminal purposes, such as con men who adopt fake personas. While passing can be unintentional, it typically implies strategic intent to take on a new identity. Early uses of passing typically refer to race. Racial passing emerged as a plot device in many 19th- and early-20th-century novels. Often referred to as the “tragic mulatto” genre, novels such as Passing ...