Tue, 14 Oct 2008

Change of Name

On September 27th, 2008, I got married. As a consequence of my marriage, I gave up my last name and took my wife's, going from Phillip Gregory to Phillip Gold. I've been asked about my decision a lot; this is my explanation.

I feel that the prevaling societal standard--the assumption that the woman must go through all the work to change her name and give up the identity she's had since birth--is unfair and an example of gender inequality. Rather than simply make that assumption, Rebecca and I discussed our names a lot before the wedding, starting with what we each wanted out of our married names, and working from there to a mutual decision.

I wanted us to both have the same name, as symbolic of our marriage. I also didn't want a hyphenated last name, because I feel that those are cumbersome and unwieldy. Rebecca also wanted to have a Jewish last name, to honor her cultural heritage. Finally, I was inclined to have a name that started with "G" so my (and her) initials would stay the same.

Our first thought was that we would find a new name that met all of our criteria and both change to that name. Unfortunately, there are only really two common Jewish surnames that start with "G": Gold and Green (plus all the variations thereof), and we couldn't find a variation on Green that we both liked. We started looking at other Jewish surnames, and I realized that I really did want to keep my initials, if only because I have the username "phil_g" on a lot of sites, not least of which is the email address I've had for over a decade now.

So I offered to just take Rebecca's name because that approach accomplished everything we wanted. She was a little hesitant, feeling that doing so would require more of me than her, but we eventually agreed that it seemed the best approach given our requirements.

Postscript: Some people suggested changing my middle name to my old last name, as some married women do. I opted against that approach, because my middle name is the same as my dad's. I would never want to give my child the same first name as myself, but I like the subtle continuity of shared middle names.

Phil! Gold