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Fluid Identity Discrimination

Leora F. Eisenstadt, Fluid Identity Discrimination, 52 American Business Law Journal 789 (2015). 

According to the most recent Census, the multiracial population of children has increased dramatically in the last decade, and the number of people of any age who identify as both white and black more than doubled in that time. In addition, there is a growing number of increasingly vocal transgender individuals who cannot be defined by existing sexual categories. Nonetheless, most courts have retained a categorical approach to Title VII that demands membership in a protected class even as American society becomes increasingly mixed and less conducive to simple categorization. In light of this new reality, this article considers the jurisprudence and scholarship on multiracial and transgender plaintiffs and argues that scholars and courts in both areas are dealing with discrimination against these increasingly visible individuals in an overly narrow way, leading to incomplete or unsatisfactory solutions. Rather than approach issues of racial identity and sexual identity separately, this article contends that these issues are symptomatic of a larger problem with Title VII, namely, an enduring attempt to fit increasingly amorphous identities into a strict categorical structure that no longer matches the reality of American society. Fluid Identity Discrimination proposes a rethinking of the protected class paradigm in light of a changed American populace with the goal of providing clarity and better alignment between law and social reality.