Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Amanda Udis-Kessler

Amanda Udis-Kessler was born with her father’s surname, Kessler, as her last name and her mother’s natal name, Udis, as her middle name.  Wanting to represent both parents through her name, she changed to the hyphenated combination at a young age out of self-described “proto-feminist” feelings.

Ms. Udis-Kessler spoke on both the pros and cons of hyphenated names, saying, “This is a life long annoyance. Airlines print my boarding pass, and their machinces are not equpped to hyphenate names, so I have found myself in small run-ins with airport secruity… Some places can’t read hyphanated names, so that bugs me and [it] just takes more time. Having people not being able to ever pronounce my last name on the first try bugs me. Emails don’t accept the long names to add for my email extension. Because both my names are so long I’m sometimes in a position where I can’t add my both names… There’s something that feels a little erased when both names arent used… I feel bad about giving a kid a hyphanated name, but also it’s unfair to give the kid just one name. I do feel that there is some value to the kid having the same last name as at least one of their parents… Just as sexism hurts men even when it oppresses women, and just as racism hurts whites even when it oppresses people of color, and so on, the naming traditions limit men as well as women.”

Interviewer: Juwan Rohan

 

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