Gear—Kim? Am I in the right place?
If you were looking for a writer called Elizabeth Sulis Gear and found yourself here, in all likelihood you are in the right place. It’s not a common combination of names.
I acquired my middle name in part as a kind of homage to the city where I was born, Bath, Somerset (at the time of my birth, Avon). Sulis was a deity worshipped at the thermal Spring by Romano-British who recognised a syncretism between her and Minerva.
I traded in my surname Gear for Kim in 2017, shortly after marrying my husband. I did so with a certain trepidation—though not through concerns for how I would relate to myself. I believe in equal rights—what kind of message would it put across adopting my husband’s name? I did receive questions from friends who wondered whether I was becoming a different person.
When I was a child, about the age of 5, my grandpa asked me whether I would change my name when I would (hypothetically) one day get married. It was a mouthful of a question for a small child. At the time I didn’t even know whether I would live until the age when marriage becomes an option, let alone get married. Years seem like decades when you’re small—and thankfully your adult future seems inconceivable. And yet somehow I answered the question with: If I like my husband’s name, yes, if I like my name better, no, he can take mine.
So that’s what I did, 20 years on. I changed my name to one I liked better than mine. I had never felt much of a connection to Gear, aesthetically or in terms of how it fit. I never felt a need to keep a name which had been passed to me patriarchally.
It was this notion of choice that made it a conscious, feminist act.