Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Luke Terra

Luke created the surname Terra with his wife and passed the name to his kids.

When asked about the motives for creating a name, Luke said, “I think in part it was motivated by feminism. It came from not feeling like it was appropriate for my wife to just take my name or me to take hers. We didn’t like what that symbolized. That part of it initially came out of feminist impulse for both of us, and then, in terms of the solution to it, that was more about what fits us personally as a couple.”

Here Luke describes the process of creating a new name with his wife: “We asked friends for advice. We thought of lots of different name possibilities, and actually it was kind of tricky because names often hold signifiers of cultural background or family history. We didn’t want to take on an identity that wasn’t ours. So we were trying to pick a name that was neutral enough that we didn’t feel false, but also one that had meaning that was significant and meaningful to us. I think it was my wife who suggested Terra… It was exactly what we wanted. For us, the meaning of the word felt perfect; it means earth, soil, and all of that. It seemed like a really appropriate way to ground a family.”

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