Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Chris Forster-Smith

Chris was given a family hyphenated name; he is recently married to Victoria, who chose to hyphenate her natal name with his hyphenated name and considering what choice they will make if they have children.
Growing up with a hyphenated name, Chris faced a few minor inconveniences. “Well, nobody ever spells my name right. Almost never. Because it’s Forster, and it has something to do with the spelling of that part of the name. It’s not Forester and it’s not Foster…people get that wrong. And then it doesn’t on, my whole name is long so it doesn’t fit on forms. Umm, you know, there have been various inconveniences, nothing like [inaudible] But, I don’t know. You would consider passing that name to your children, despite conveniences? Yeah, I think I would, I mean part of the other thing is, my parents both, they decided to hyphenate, their name is hyphenated, so, you know, how would I choose if I were to shorten it…Right…between one or the other. I could but that would be really problematic.”
Even though Chris respects his parents decision to hyphenate, he is uncertain about the future of the pratice. He said, “Well, in terms of sustainability, I feel like, I mean, the option is to either continue hyphenating and adding on an [inaudible] of names, or it’s to have to like make a decision between one or the other and sort of make a break from the practice. Umm, but i would say the institutional, umm, constraints are ¬†pressuring things such that it’s easier to have one name and even if you have multiple names, you have to either shorten it or you have to choose one for the sake of convenience anyway. So, I sort of feel like the pressure is already against the practice, continually, and I feel like we’ll have to make some sort of choice if and when we have children.”

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