Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Children Receive Mother’s Natal Name

Some children receive their mother’s natal name instead of their father’s. This happened in the case of Jennifer Gillis, who gave her daughter her own surname because she was distanced from the father. Lowell Ensel, for very different reasons, received his mother’s surname because his father insisted it was more interesting.

An ironic outcome of this naming practice is that people often make the assumption that the child is named after the father, and call the father by the wrong name (if he has not chosen to go by his wife’s name as well). A benefit of this name is that a woman’s lineage is not erased, however, it may not be advantageous if the family wishes to have a unified family name and the husband does not want to take his wife’s name.

Click here to read interviews of children who have received their mother’s maiden name.

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