Names and "doing gender": how forenames and surnames contribute to gender identities, difference, and inequalities

Pilcher, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-1864-1362, 2017. Names and "doing gender": how forenames and surnames contribute to gender identities, difference, and inequalities. Sex Roles, 77 (11-12), pp. 812-822. ISSN 0360-0025

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Names, as proper nouns, are clearly important for the identification of individuals in everyday life. In the present article, I argue that forenames and surnames need also to be recognized as “doing” words, important in the categorization of sex at birth and in the ongoing management of gender conduct appropriate to sex category. Using evidence on personal naming practices in the United States and United Kingdom, I examine what happens at crisis points of sexed and gendered naming in the life course (for example, at the birth of babies, at marriage, and during gender-identity transitions). I show how forenames and surnames help in the embodied doing of gender and, likewise, that bodies are key to gendered practices of forenaming and surnaming: we have “gendered embodied named identities.” Whether normative and compliant, pragmatic, or creative and resistant, forenaming and surnaming practices are revealed as core to the production and reproduction of binary sex categories and to gendered identities, difference, hierarchies, and inequalities.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Sex Roles
Creators: Pilcher, J.
Publisher: Springer New York
Date: December 2017
Volume: 77
Number: 11-12
ISSN: 0360-0025
805Publisher Item Identifier
Rights: © the author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 30 Jan 2019 10:44
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 13:20

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