If you change your name, can you list both names as authors?

For example, consider a PhD student named John Doe who after finishing his PhD undergoes a sex change and name change to Jane Doe before starting a postdoc. After the sex change Jane continues to work on a project that she started as a PhD student. Assume that the authors on the resulting paper are the PhD advisor, the postdoc advisor and Jane/John Doe. Can both Jane and John be listed? What happens if Jane never worked on the project, can she be the author or does it have to be John?

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    What do you mean by listing both names? I see nothing wrong with, say, listing Jane Doe with a footnote saying "previously known as John Doe" (or vice versa), but it would be really weird and confusing to include both John Doe and Jane Doe in the author list as if they were different people. Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 16:53
  • @AnonymousMathematician I mean listing both in the author list. Something like Doe, Doe, Smith and Jones.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 18:38
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    "The song's name is called Haddocks' Eyes; The song's name is The Aged Aged Man; The song is called Ways and Means; The song is A-sitting on a Gate". Ref: The White Knight, Lewis Carroll, and Charles Dodgson, "Through the Looking-Glass". ;)
    – alephzero
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 20:47

4 Answers 4


This is indeed a weird question, though not an uninteresting one.

Fundamentally a name is a pointer to a person, of a formalized and official sort, but of course for every person there are multiple phrases that point to them. Any article byline gives a mapping to the set of objects named, and the idea that perhaps this function need not or should not be one-to-one is a very curious one. I don't know a general principle to invoke from which to deduce the "injectivity of authorial bylines", but multiple names pointing to the same person would be highly nonstandard and powerfully confusing to many.

I'm not sure what to make of the fact that your example of a name change is motivated by a sex change. Name changes are common occurrences for people of all genders, and the percentage of name changes which are motivated by issues of gender identity and/or sex changes is very small. The largest percentage is surely when people (not just women, though still more women than men) get married, and then comes people who have moved from one part of the world to another where their name is difficult to pronounce, written in a different alphabet, sounds like something undesirable in the language of their new home, and so forth. Also papers published in one language are often translated into another, with the effect that e.g. many Russian authors are known by several moderately different names in the anglophone academic community. Adding a clarifying note that say that multiple spellings point to the same person could be helpful. In this recent preprint the byline is "Yuri G. Zarhin (Zarkhin)", which is perhaps the closest thing I've seen to the practice you're asking about.

However, there are nuances in your question that suggest the sex change example is not accidental: you actually mean to consider deeper issues of personal identity. In other words, what if beyond changing their name, someone considers themself to actually be a different person? I get this for instance from

What happens if Jane never worked on the project, can she be the author or does it have to be John?

The obvious answer is "What are you talking about? Jane Doe and John Doe are the same person. So of course Jane worked on the project. The fact that the name 'Jane' was not applied to this person while she was working on the project is totally irrelevant." However, it could be that Jane feels that she is really a different person from John. Maybe she arranges [illegally, perhaps; I don't know how this works] to get a new social security number and otherwise systematically denies and delinks her new identity from her old one. In that case it could be meaningful -- even critical -- to her that Jane didn't work on the project, rather John did. However, though Jane's perspective is a highly interesting one, it is not going to hold up in the practicalities of an academic career, as she presumably wants to regard John's training and credentials as her own. If she tries to make a CV of Jane Doe's work only, she is going to at best confuse everyone and more likely shoot herself in the foot.

It would be worth hearing from a transgendered academic [I am not one] for more nuances about this. My understanding is that the above exigencies essentially require them to explain carefully in their CV that they have changed their name from John Doe to Jane Doe and thus cannot professionally behave like they are two different people. If you are including the identity "John Doe = Jane Doe" anyway, then if it has deep personal significance to you to list yourself as John Doe on a paper that you worked on while you were John Doe even though you now sign all your papers Jane Doe, you can make that choice (and certainly it is your choice: the idea of anyone else telling you what to do here is somewhere between cruel and absurd). What you cannot do is list both John Doe and Jane Doe as authors. Well, not unless you wish to be truly transgressive: perhaps there are some areas of academia in which the jarring, confusing nature of such a byline would be viewed positively.

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    I am not sure if the sex change matters, I just wanted to make it clear that the issue is not as simple as a name change after marriage. I don't know what an editor would do and I don't know what I would think of a person who was the sole author of a Doe and Jones paper.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 18:45
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    If Jane didn't work on the project as Jane, I'd think she'd have the choice of either but not both. "I wanted to use my present professional name," or "I felt I was a different person when I worked on the project," are both likely to be well-received. However, "I felt I was a different person but I still wanted credit under my present name," is unlikely to be well-received. In the first case (work done under both identities) agreed that listing both (as opposed to a footnote) is transgressive and feels dishonest, but in some communities might be acceptable.
    – Philip
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 18:46
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    The idea of feeling that one is a new person and delinking one's current identity from one's previous identity leads to interesting problems. What if, for example, John Doe's work on this project had included some plagiarism or falsification of data? I'd want to hold Jane Doe responsible for that, and I suspect most scientists would agree with me. What about non-scientists? Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 22:44
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    I am not a lawyer but I don't think the courts would accept Jane's argument that she does not need to go to prison for the crimes John has been convicted for.
    – gerrit
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 23:07
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    @gerrit: The case is not quite that easy. From the scientific point of view, the issue is that if any of the coauthors of a paper is or becomes aware that some of the findings presented in the paper are unsound because the underlying data has been falsified, it would somehow be the coauthor's moral duty to do something about the paper. While Jane may be able to deny responsibility for the original act, it will be hard for her to deny knowledge of what happened, which will weigh particularly badly as she must have had that knowledge already while she was working on the paper and still ... Commented May 20, 2016 at 21:35

This would be a much more common situation if you just asked about name changes after marriage, which is a very common thing for women in the western world (at least). There are lots of strategies here, but some women choose to keep their "academic" name the same even if the name they use in the rest of the world changes. This keeps the continuity of their name for citation counting purposes, professional recognition, and other aspects of an academic career. Others choose not to change their name at all. And others just deal with the change. I don't think anyone puts both their names, and I don't think many journals would accept it.

If you search the internet, there's plenty of articles with advice and stories about what women who married between their first and subsequent publications did and should do.

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    I agree that name changes after marriage are more common, but to an extent I wanted to avoid the "don't change your name professionally" issues. I am curious about your statement that no one does it and journals might not accept it.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 18:42
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    @StrongBad, my statement was more qualified than that. I have never seen both names on a paper in the post-marriage context, and it is only my supposition based on that and all of the hand-wringing in that context that leads me to believe that no journals allow it. Maybe you should ask a few journal editors.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 19:07
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    About "I don't think many journals would accept it". How will they check that 2 names belong to the same person? Will they bother to check? Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 19:45
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    I believe that we live in a world, where also men might change their name after marriage. Admitted that it is far more seldom, but reducing it to what you have written seems just wrong and an antiquated point of view. I also want to state, that this hardly answers the question that was asked. Someone who chooses to change her/his sex, will most likely never keep her/his name, for academic reasons. Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 14:23
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    @Martin, I don't think you've yet characterized my view accurately at all. What outdated view do you think I hold here? Nothing I said is exclusive to women in the West, just that this is the most common source of information on academics whose names change over the course of their careers. Has that changed? I don't think so. I find the practice old-fashioned, but that's irrelevant to my answer which suggests reasoning by analogy to the more common case.
    – Bill Barth
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 21:47

TL;DR: A transgender woman is unlikely to want her dead name in a publication. You can safely assume Jane wants to publish under "Jane" and under no other name. In the unlikely event that this is wrong, she's not going to be upset about her co-author thinking she would like to publish under her real name.

Allow me to offer my perspective (sorry, I didn't see the question earlier). I no longer consider myself transgender, but I've "been there".

Please accept that there is no "John". Jane has been falsely imprisoned in a male gender role since birth. Every time Jane is referred to by her dead name, she will think that she is not welcome, that people don't want her to exist, and she may even contemplate suicide. (Every time I've asked a transgender person about suicide, they have described detailed plans for how they would kill themselves.)

If you insist on deadnaming her, don't be surprised if she dumps the project, and severs contact with you. Other possibilities are jumping in front of a train, or filing a complaint of discrimination. (If people did this to me, I would catch a taxi to the airport, move to a new city/country and start a new life/career outside of academia. I have organized my life so that I can do this at any moment. However, I'm fortunate to have found a work environment where this is not an issue, and I'm now a very loyal employee [unwilling to leave even if somewhere else offered me a far higher salary].)

The best analogy I've found to explain how deadnaming feels: Imagine a husband referring to his wife by his ex-girlfriend's name, and then, when she gets angry, he tells her it's easier for him to refer to her by his ex's name, and that she's overreacting. His wife was never that person. Jane was never that person either.

From most transgender peoples' perspective, there is no "sex change" (it's one of many misleading terms non-transgender people use to describe transgender people [other popular ones include "woman trapped in a man's body" (instead of "woman") and "preferred name" (instead of "name")]). There's possibly a moment of realization ("Huh. I'm a girl.") followed by negotiating a pathway to being accepted in society as one's true gender (or a sufficiently close approximation to make life liveable). Often this involves adopting a gender-appropriate name, which will help her fit in and be one of the girls. Irrespective of which forms she's filled in, and irrespective of other people's opinions, Jane's name is Jane (until she says otherwise).

Jane may undergo medical procedures to correct her bodily mismatches (which are very expensive, probably will be the most physically painful experiences in her life, and might make her incapable of having children). She endures this partly to stop people mistaking her for a man; to live as Jane in every aspect of her life. Jane suffers greatly for the sake of being called Jane.

Jane will also be aware that if she refers to herself using her dead name, it gives others an excuse to follow suit. And when others see people deadnaming her, they think it's okay too, and it grows out of control quickly. (For this reason, I never use my dead name. Anyone who uses it is doing so against my will---they are backstabbing me. I have both threatened to sue or file a human rights complaint against those who have used it against my will.)

Being transgender should also be considered in a medical context---it's intimate and confidential, and not something she will want immortalized on permanent documents. However, one medical aspect is important to be aware of here: the real-life test. International guidelines for treatment of transgender people require that patients live a life consistent with their stipulated gender (the phrase is "consistent, insistent, and persistent"). As such, it's important for her to publish under the name "Jane" to access medical care, which is probably more important to her than the publication itself. (As it was for me. As another example, I deliberately stood at the front of this conference photo so I could later use it for the real-life test.)

With the above in mind, the idea that Jane would want that other word on a publication is preposterous to me. It would be a huge step backwards in life.

(Caveat: Transgender people are a diverse group, so there is no universal narrative.)

Some comments about Pete L. Clark's answer:

  • I'm not aware of a transgender person who considers themselves as a different person after transitioning (although they might use something along the lines of "the person I was" metaphorically). The typical transgender narrative is that they are affirming their gender; something along the lines of "I was always a girl, but was mistaken for a boy at birth". Some transgender people actually consider themselves as a different gender than prior to transitioning (which might be because of different interpretations of the word "gender"), but not a different person.

  • The ability to correct one's documents varies from document to document, state to state, country to country, and fluctuates with who's running the country/state you were born in, live in, or are a citizen of. While messy, it's perfectly legal. Keep in mind, however:

    • Transgender people tend to value who someone is, rather than what's written on documents, and
    • There's also no such thing as e.g. "legally a woman": in a court of law, you are whatever the judge says you are. Outside of a court of law, it's ordinary for transgender people to have mismatches between their gender, driver's licence, passport, and birth certificate.

      [I find it amusing when lawmakers talk about how simple it is to tell who's a man and who's a woman, then proceed to propose laws with definitions of "man" and "woman" inconsistent with the definitions in laws proposed by other lawmakers who also talk about how simple it is to tell who's a man and who's a woman. (99% of the time it is easy, and these definitions are consistent, but there's some exceptions, and this is what transgender people are---the exceptions.)]

  • Transgender people often avoid transitioning until the point where they become suicidal, where the choice becomes "transition or kill myself". They have no choice but to accept the consequences of transitioning, no matter how severe. They have likely accepted a host of negatives to live an authentic life, including a constant fear of being physically attacked, being arrested arbitrarily (and being raped in a gender-mismatched jail [along with forced prostitution]), being rejected by their families and religious groups, becoming homeless and having to turn to sex work to survive, unwanted sexual advances (trans people are often considered fetish objects, rather than human beings), and so on. Jane is probably unconcerned other people's momentary confusion about which papers she's authored.

    By transitioning, Jane has accepted a lower chance at getting a job, and a lower salary if she does get it, all to live an authentic life. Her identity (who she is as a person) is more valuable to her than her career. Some of my stories:

    • I'm fairly sure I was turned down for a job for no other reason than my gender. The rejection letter was inaccurate, and I was even told I could not even give a seminar at that institution. While prior to transitioning, the professor would email me and be happy for me to visit (where I once gave a seminar), they have not returned my emails in about 3 years.

    • I was accepted for some short-term contract work. Admin requested my documents, but since they weren't corrected at that stage, I refused to supply them citing privacy reasons. They said that if I didn't supply the documents, I would be given a "without PhD qualifications" salary, to which I agreed explaining that my privacy was more important to me than money, but they eventually put me on the "with PhD qualifications" salary anyway.

    • My work under my dead name is listed on separate MathSciNet, Google Scholar, math.SE, etc., pages.

    • I had two (or maybe three?) papers in the "minor revisions" stage when I transitioned. It took me something like six months to actually make those changes. As the corresponding author of one paper, this is what I wrote to the journal editor:

      I must apologize about this, as the delay [was] caused largely by myself (not my co-authors) due to personal reasons (which will be apparent from my change of name).

      I've attached the relevant documents to this email. Please let me know if there's anything else required. Also please forgive me for not using the [submission system] to respond; I do not wish to use that account.

      The editor asked me to create a new account, which I did, and the paper was transferred there. Noone said anything about the name.

    • I had a grant under my dead name. After transitioning, I claimed reimbursement for conference travel on that grant, and I was asked for proof of the change of name (a "linking document"), which I refused citing privacy reasons and told them not to worry about the reimbursement. They apologized for asking, and reimbursed me without the document.

    There's workarounds in a lot of instances. It's not as bad as you might think. E.g. I've been publishing a lot recently, attempting to bury my dead-name publications; when applying for a job, I first email someone on the panel who I know from conferences; on my CV and website, I list surnames only; and here's a snippet from an email to someone I'll visit next week, who previously didn't know about my transition:

    Hi [collaborator],

    Hopefully you remember me (and can figure out who this is---perhaps ask [another collaborator] if there's any confusion).

    Anyway, I'm thinking of going to the Design Theory conference in Istanbul... [snip]

    Many thanks,

    Rebecca Stones

    Many people have no difficulty with this. I'm starting to get emails about papers published under my dead name, but addressed to me. Journal editors are somehow still sending me referee requests. I've had two professors say they would write me letters of recommendation, which I've actually had to turn down (I guess they perceived me as having difficulty obtaining these).

And in response to some of the comments:

  • The idea of adding a footnote "previously known as John Doe" is just as preposterous to me as adding a dead name co-author (I would sooner write "I have genital herpes" as a footnote than my equivalent).

  • "If Jane didn't work on the project as Jane..." "What if, for example, John Doe's work on this project..." There is only Jane; there is only Jane's work. Please try to stop clinging onto the imaginary person, and see the real person.

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    Rebecca: I learned more from reading this answer than almost any SE answer. This is not the place for me to ask further questions or attempt to debate difficult questions of the temporal nature of identity, so I will just take in your answer. I will say though that I tried to write fairly and in an unprejudiced manner on a topic which I have no personal experience. If the language I used and the ideas I expressed are inappropriate, offensive or painful to you or your community I am very sorry. Unfortunately I don't know any better...nor do most people, I suspect. Commented May 20, 2016 at 18:05
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    I didn't interpret anything you wrote as offensive; I was more trying to build on it. In general, it's reasonable to assume one is trying to avoid hurting one's career, but sometimes personal goals are simply more important. Commented May 20, 2016 at 20:51
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    Great, I'm very relieved to hear that. "In general, it's reasonable to assume one is trying to avoid hurting one's career, but sometimes personal goals are simply more important." Agreed. Commented May 20, 2016 at 20:53
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    Rebecca, I want to echo what Pete said. This is a staggeringly good answer / explanation/opening up. If it wasn't easy or you wondered if there was a point - thank you for your courage as well, so its not assumed easy. I have understood better from this in concrete terms, more of the issues and inward experiences/perspectives, which may be faced by transgendered people, than from almost anything else I have read, here or elsewhere. Thank you.
    – Stilez
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 16:03

Name changes are quite common among both sexes for reasons other than sex change or marriage. Apart from the reasons mentioned in the previous answers, I have come across people who have changed their name after a parental divorce, deciding to use the last name of the mother.

Irrespective of the reason for name change, the process I think would remain the same for all practical purposes. Definitely, there is no question of both names being included as that would establish John and Jane two different individuals, while in fact, they are the same person.

Additionally, while a footnote that explains the name change would suffice in a publication, I feel a copy of a legal document establishing the name change should be submitted to the journal. That would make the disclosure complete and would prove that John and Jane are the same person. In my country, usually an affidavit is done to legalize a name change. I'm not sure how it is is other countries, but I strongly feel some such document should be produced as evidence.


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