Faculty Notes

Prof. Joanna Grossman Publishes Journal Article on the Law and Social Meaning of ‘Passing’

Joanna L. Grossman, Sidney and Walter Siben Distinguished Professor of Family Law and Hofstra Research Fellow

Joanna L. Grossman, the Sidney and Walter Siben Distinguished Professor of Family Law, published “Double Take: The Law of Embezzled Lives” in the University of Cincinnati Law Review. This article, co-authored by Lawrence M. Friedman (Stanford Law School), is part of a larger project that explores privacy in law and society.

This piece focuses on one aspect of privacy: role-playing and concealed or altered identity. It explores a particular kind of role-playing, known as “passing,” in which people lead double lives — sometimes to avoid social stigma, other times to gain an illegal or improper advantage.

This article focuses on the limits of passing — those situations (contemporary and historical) when it is wrong or illegal to live two lives because the “false” or outer life is a lie that would be considered impermissibly deceptive.

The reader is taken on a tour of everything from spying to adoption secrecy to transgenderism while learning something of the law and social meaning of passing.