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Naming Practices

Naming practices typically describe a multitude of cultural customs in which expecting parents, or a group of familial members, choose the fore- and middle name(s) for their newest family member. The reasons for which names are selected vary across time, place, and culture, yet gender is the most common influence regardless of nationality, race, and class. Accordingly, naming practices are inspired by cultural notions of gender—even those names chosen because of their androgynous character. Given forenames, just like gender, are presumed to be stable and therefore unchanged throughout a person’s lifetime. The predicament, then, is when one’s gender identity does not match the name given at birth. This entry considers naming practices, the role of names as related to gender identity, and name change processes ...

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