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.  [Note that I now go by Piper Gold; the names in this post are what I was using at the time it was written.]

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.