Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Megan Murphy

Megan and her partner both kept their last names upon marrying because they were both very attached to their names. Their child has her partner’s last name, Shaw, as a last name, and Megan’s last name, Murphy, as a middle name. They refer to their family as the “Murphy Shaw family.”

I felt strongly about keeping my name and never intended to take a partner’s name. My partner did not want to take my name because she was attached to her name as well. It didn’t feel like it was something that was outwardly expected of us; being a gay couple, we weren’t held to the same expectations as straight marrying couples. We considered hyphenating, but ultimately decided against it because we thought it introduced problems down the line with endless hyphenated names. We wanted to keep things a little simpler.

Another consideration was that Megan’s family had lots of kids with the last name Murphy, but her partner only had one sibling who had taken her husband’s name, so they thought it’d be nice to preserve the Shaw name through their children.

While we thought about it, we didn’t agonize over the decision. My partner was carrying our child, we didn’t want to hyphenate, we didn’t want to take one another’s names, there are lots of kids on my side with my last name and fewer on her side… so we went with her last name, with my last name as our child’s middle name. If we have additional children, they will also have my last name as their middle names and my partner’s last name, regardless of who carries the children.

As far as I’m concerned, my feminist orientation very much influenced wanting to keep my name. Growing up, I never had an intention of “surrendering” that part of my identity to a future partner… I think each family needs to figure it out for themselves and figure out what works for them.



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