Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Jessica Giles Copeland

Jessica Giles Copeland took her first husband’s last name, Giles, and worked academically under that name. Upon marrying her second husband with the surname, Copeland, her goal was to use Giles in an academic setting and Copeland in a personal setting.

She mentions some of the issues that she dealt with, “I stayed Giles academically until I moved to Colorado College at which point when I went to do my right-to-work paperwork, like my W9… and they processed my identifying, like my social security card and driver’s license that said Copeland, that was the email address tat they created for me and that was the login name that they gave me.”

When asked about using different names in different situations, she said, “What seems to me is that people who know me as different names almost don’t know different versions of me. So if you are a person who calls me Wollam, like I have friends from life who just call me by my last name. And when someone calls me Wollam, I associate it with unconditional love. Like, if you knew me well enough to call me Wollam there is no way I am ever going to disappoint you, like I have your friendship for life. And If I’m Giles, I’m an academic. Like if you know me as Jessica Giles, its Dr. Giles. Because that that entire period of marriage was getting my PhD… Copeland to me is synonymous with military wife.”

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