Okay so tons of people far more brilliant that I have talked about passing phenomenon from gender-, race-, and sexuality-based perspectives, but I think it’s important to acknowledge what the experience of passing does to a person before we can officially talk about it in terms of privilege.
And I say this as someone who lied for almost a decade. I got good at lying, at twisting my own words so that I always said mother in the singular and parents in the plural. At remembering what I’d said my mother did for a living and a father too if I had to construct one to get around an awkward school project or even just a simple conversation.
Lying is hard. It’s work, and it’s psychologically taxing to have the constant threat that something that’s true but incidental to your worth as a human being can jeopardize your safety. It’s not the cold anger that comes from someone, everyone, crossing the street once they notice your face, or the strange job interviews that mysteriously always end in them not seeking anyone for the position at the moment. No, it’s the fear that you can be outed, that you can be discovered, that you can be rooted out and depending on the situation, killed.
And having lived with that fear I don’t think it’s a privilege. It’s just the other side of the coin of being a person of color, being female, being genderqueer, being queer, and so on. You’ve simply had (perhaps through chance or perhaps through your own intent) a situation arise where you’ve traded one set of inequalities (the black tax, for example) for another (worrying that your hair looks too natural and having to take the time and resources to straighten it).
It’s not a privilege, it’s the same bullshit being expressed in a different way.