This essay explores news media coverage of two types of alleged "passing": passing across racial lines from Black to White and across sex lines from female to male. Textual analysis of dominant print media and print media discourses produced by and/or addressed to Blacks and queers reveals prominent frames through which news consumers are invited to perceive these events. In particular, the analysis demonstrates that both dominant and marginal social groups express the desire to fix the identities of passers in a single, discrete category, although these groups wish to do so for disparate reasons. In addition, marginal groups frame passing events within broad cultural and historical contexts in contrast to the narrow contexts framed by dominant media. Comparison of race and sex passing exposes the similarities-including community consternation about the passer-and differences-including disparate focus on civil rights rather than identity issues-between Black and queer coverage of these events. Comparison of race and sex passing also exposes the way in which dominant media correlate race passing with class passing, while sex passing is correlated to sexuality passing (that is, queer passing for heterosexual).
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