Sunday School: On Marriage
Following Elly’s marriage article at Teen Skepchick, I’m wondering about married names outside the cis/hetero context. As a married hetero ciswoman who remains Ms. Me, I feel that I’m missing a large amount of nuance due to that bias.
How is name change on marriage discussed by various LGBTQIA persons, for good or ill? Is there pressure for one or both partners to do so in a formal marriage, or conversely a negative pushback on name change? If one changed to a name that better reflects one’s identity prior to marriage being discussed, how does this impact the discourse? –M.
Short answer: there is no short answer, because marriage is a pretty intensely personal thing, especially for same-sex couples since most of us don’t feel the same pressure to conform to the cultural script about it.
Long answer: I can’t answer for everybody, but here’s one cis lesbian’s take.
I like my name. I like the cadence of it, I like that it’s unusual for women to have three first names, and I like that the username “rkclair” is almost always available on everything, ever, because it makes my life a hell of a lot easier. That being said, I kind of hate that I inherited my surname from my abusive sociopath father (even more than I hate being a walking Lesbian With Daddy Issues stereotype) and I would ditch that shit in a heartbeat if I were to settle down with a lady whose last name I liked better and (more importantly, I think) wanted me to change it.
As a general rule, the thought of both partners hyphenating has always made me really happy, because it indicates to me a lasting equal partnership. To be absolutely honest, though, I have no idea how anyone on the queer side of the aisle feels about it–although I know an adorable het couple who apparently had the same idea.
In the end, it really does just boil down to personal choice. I mean, we could probably argue for weeks about the significance of a name change for a couple whose very right to marry is in dispute in most of the United States, versus the frankly icky idea of conforming to the gender-based baggage associated with “traditional” marriage. There are queer people who don’t think we should be getting married at all, because it’s just reifying an oppressive cultural institution!
So that’s my answer, as helpful as it probably isn’t. Maybe we’ve got some Smug Marrieds who can sound off about their experiences in the comments.
If you have a question for Sunday School, then have I got a comment form for you!
Featured image from The Princess Bride, which is probably the most gender-problematic movie I grew up with, and also the most difficult to give up.