Do lesbians change their last names in the context of a committed relationship?

Elizabeth A. Suter, Ramona Faith Oswald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This exploratory study begins to redress a critical gap in the literature on committed same-sex relationships and last name practices. Data were gathered from an Internet survey, which included 16 lesbian respondents currently in a same-sex relationship. Analyses explored individual, couple, and family of origin factors associated with changing or not changing one’s name. Name-changing was cited as a strategy for securing external recognition and acceptance of family status by outsiders. Not changing was cited as a strategy to preserve each partner’s individual identity. Contrary to our expectations, changing one’s last name was not associated with having a commitment ceremony. Instead, name-changing was ritualized on other occasions, special to the individual couple, such as an anniversary, a partner’s birthday, or an intimate dinner party among friends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-83
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Lesbian Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Family of origin
  • Lesbian
  • Naming practices
  • Ritual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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