2022-03Thematic Section
Racial Fraud and the American Binary


In response to recent controversies about racial transitioning, I provide an argument that deceptions about ancestry may sometimes constitute fraud. In order to arrive at this conclusion, I criticize the arguments from analogy made famous by Rebecca Tuvel and Christine Overall. My claim is that we should not think of racial transitioning as similar to gender transitioning, because different identity groups possess different kinds of obstacles to entry. I then provide historical surveys of American racial categories and the various types of passing common in American history, in order to distinguish the potentially fraudulent from the relatively innocent styles of passing.


race, racial passing, racial fraud, identity transition, social identity, racial identity

How to cite:

Harrelson, Kevin J. “Racial Fraud and the American Binary.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 6, no. 3 (2022):  44-61. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2022.0024.


Kevin J. Harrelson
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Ball State University
2000 W. University Ave. Muncie, IN 47306, USA


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