US: The Beauty and Terror of Passing as a Woman

Passing is a complex and controversial topic. Typically, when people talk of passing—a shorthand for "racial passing"—they are referring to African Americans presenting as white in order to escape slavery or discrimination. However, in recent years, more confounding types of passing have made headlines. The most infamous is probably the case of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who passed as black, and comedian Mindy Kaling's brother, an Indian American man who posed as black to get into med school.

We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America is a forthcoming anthology edited by Brando Skyhorse and Lisa Page that explores the numerous reasons why and how some people pass: "opportunity, access, safety, adventure, agency, fear, trauma, shame." Skyhorse, a Mexican American writer who passed as an American Indian for 25 years, and Page, a biracial woman whose black grandmother passed for white in order to go to college, have gathered an impressively diverse set of new essays on passing that span race, background, class, orientation, and nationality.

In the excerpt below, Gabrielle Bellot writes of her experience as a trans woman of color passing as a cis woman and the validation—and fear—that followed. Read more via VICE