'Passing' and the Politics of Deception: Transgender Bodies, Cisgender Aesthetics, and the Policing of Inconspicuous Marginal Identities

The Palgrave Handbook of Deceptive Communication (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan), edited by Tony Docan-Morgan, Forthcoming

12 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2018

See all articles by Thomas J Billard

Thomas J Billard

University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Date Written: October 8, 2018

Abstract

Billard raises important questions about the nature of “deception” and status of “deceiver,” analyzing media discourses surrounding instances of transgender “passing.” These discourses position transgender people as deceivers who live out their genders to seduce heterosexuals, scrutinizing their appearances for signs of their “true gender.” Contradictorily, the successful attainment of cisgender aesthetics deemed “passing” legitimates a transgender person’s gender identity, but also renders them more malicious in their deception. As such, media discourses surrounding transgender people who “pass” justify punishment for their deception through violence. In this chapter, Billard explores these tensions, challenging the application of the label “deception” by the social majority to those of marginal identities, particularly inconspicuous ones, as it serves to delegitimate authentic identities and police the boundaries of social hierarchies.

Keywords: transgender, passing, violence, deception, identity

Suggested Citation

Billard, Thomas J, 'Passing' and the Politics of Deception: Transgender Bodies, Cisgender Aesthetics, and the Policing of Inconspicuous Marginal Identities (October 8, 2018). The Palgrave Handbook of Deceptive Communication (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan), edited by Tony Docan-Morgan, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3263131

Thomas J Billard (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism ( email )

3502 Watt Way, Suite 304
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

HOME PAGE: http://annenberg.usc.edu/faculty/doctoral-students/thomas-billard

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