Disability and Passing: Blurring the Lines of Identity by Jeffrey A Brune

By Jeffrey A Brune

Why passing is a vital idea in incapacity studies 

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Extra resources for Disability and Passing: Blurring the Lines of Identity

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Aside from being overwhelmed, both physically and psychologically, and receiving a great deal of publicity about “the blind veteran, suddenly cured,”19 Griffin worried about how he would define himself. By this point, he identified as a blind man. To give up that identity was to lose a part of himself, and it frightened him. He wrote, “Dimly I thought of all those sightless people who had for so long been my brothers and sisters. ”20 It appears as though he did, as there is little evidence that he stayed in touch with people in his blind community.

Government—to ease reentry into society. When Roosevelt was president, the Secret Service ensured that buildings and rooms were accessible to him, and they were able to do it in ways that minimized the appearance of disability. 20 Still, FDR was an important model because he had an important political career after polio, because he did it by minimizing the extent of his disabilities, and because many polio survivors found that by minimizing or denying their disabilities they, too, could “pass” into society and lead relatively normal lives.

11 There is irony, again, in the way that Griffin rejected government assistance to make himself feel more like a nondisabled, independent American man. The postwar popular belief in the independent middleclass man was more myth than reality. Nondisabled, white, middle-class men relied heavily on government subsidies and unpaid domestic labor, without which they could not maintain the façade of independence. They benefited from the educational and housing benefits of the GI Bill, military pensions, housing subsidies from tax deductions and the Federal Housing Authority, and other federal programs.

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