Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Mary Pechauer

Mary decided to keep her maiden name when marrying her husband.

 We ended up getting married a year after college and I stayed with my last name and I think it’s because I still felt like I was just beginning to understand who I was and that was really strongly connected to my name. And so I just thought, I can’t be Mary Undlin. That’s just not who I am. I’m still trying to figure out who Mary Pechauer is. And so I needed to stay with that and I knew he wasn’t going to fight it and it wasn’t going to be an issue.

Mary’s husband didn’t want to change his last name because he felt a strong connection to his Norwegian heritage. When having kids, her and her husband decided that hyphenating would be too long and hard to spell, so decided they would have Pechauer as their middle names and Undlin as their last names.

Freda has two gay mothers and two gay fathers. Her mothers who are Freda’s legal guardians decided they would give her both their last names, hyphenated. At the time, they didn’t know her fathers would be so present in her life. Freda’s brother, who is biologically from the same father but other mother, has the same last name Hawver-Pachter. Both her mothers felt strong attachment to their names and histories, and decided to hyphenate them so neither were lost. Although Freda doesn’t know is she wants to marry, she discusses what she would do with her last name.

I don’t know, maybe we’ll just make up a new name, that’d be kind of cool. Or like, I don’t know… Because I wouldn’t want to drop either name, just for sake of my mothers’ feelings, and also I would not know which name to drop. I don’t consider myself an avid feminist, but I just don’t like the idea of having to get rid of part of my identity to be married to another person.

Having a hyphenated name helps Freda explain about her family, and makes it easier to prove that both her mothers are actually her mothers, for example in airport security.

 

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