Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Corina McKendry

When Corina married, her and her wife decided to both keep their last names both for attachment to name and for professional reasons. When having a child, they considered different options like hyphenating, but decided the name would have been too long. They decided to give their child Corina’s wife’s last name, party because Corina was the biological mother.

I am the birth mom, I decided we had to go with my wife’s last name. Part of it was this queer parenting book that I read. They were talking about different last naming practices, hyphenating, changing names, and they basically made this argument that the worst possible thing you can do is give your kid the birth parent’s name. Because being a biological parent is already socially recognized, and so if the other mother is neither biological parent nor has the same name, these two things we automatically have broader social recognition around, they will have neither, right?

 They are happy with the decision they made, but Corina says she sometimes wishes they all shared the last name because it’s indicative of a family unit. Her ideal would be if they had both come up with a new last name to use for the family, and at one point considered changing both their names to her wife’s mom’s maiden name, but decided against it because of bad associations of the male origin of the name. Another factor of deciding to give their child her wife’s last name was consideration of her extended family.

But for her parents, who used to be super conservative and Catholic, they’ve come a long way, but I think it was helpful for them in terms of really feeling like she is their grandaughter as much as their biological grandkids, so I think it actually made a difference in terms of her family’s recognition.

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