Naming laws and their reinforcement of the gender binary.
Boer, H. de
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This research focuses on the connection between naming laws and the reinforcement of the gender binary. Although naming practices have been studied extensively (Finch, 2008), it has received limited attention within feminist and gender studies. This research builds further on the article of Plicher (2017) in which she puts forename practices at the core of the production and reproduction of the gender binary. Using Foucault’s and Butler’s work on sexuality and gender, this research shows how naming practices produce gendered bodies even before one is born. By focusing on naming laws that encompass gender restrictions, i.e. when only ‘gender-corresponding’ names are allowed, a new perspective on the institutionalisation of the gender binary is given. Because these naming laws force parents to accept the gender binary as a ‘truth’, they lay at the centre of the reinforcement of the gender binary. Therefore it is of great importance to bring these laws under the attention of feminists who plea for a rejection of the dichotomy. Feminist legal theory and critical discourse analysis are used to analyse two case studies of naming laws that include gender restrictions: the German naming law and the Danish naming law. Both laws show different manifestations of the gender binary, which provide the opportunity to obtain more information. Throughout this study, it is argued that these naming laws, an often unrecognised institutionalised form of the gender binary, should be modulated, and idyllically, be repealed. To achieve this, possible starting points are given, while taking different feminist perspectives into account.