'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
Date Written: October 8, 2018
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
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