It’s already been a thing, my name. I have four of ’em–Shawna Kristine Louise Malvini. It’s not my fault that my parents couldn’t decide on just one middle, so I got two. And I use them! They’re on my transcript. They’re on my driver’s license. “Malvini” drops to a second line that no one sees and cashiers always look at me like I’ve stolen the credit card. At every graduation, my full name is blasted to the rafters, one or more monikers mispronounced, of course.
At some point I started joking that the more names I gathered, the more I could sound like royalty. So I’d get married and be Shawna Kristine Louise Malvini Something. And then he’d kick off after 50 years and I’d marry a ridiculously younger man* and be Shawna Kristine Louise Malvini Something Something. It could be fun!
Of course, the “fun” got weird when I actually started to think about changing my name. T played it cool and said he didn’t have a preference one way or another. I knew I didn’t want to completely switch to Redden–too many critical feminist ideas ruminating in the brains, you know. And I didn’t want to give up Malvini. Lord knows some of my nearest and dearest only refer to me as “Malvini” and I like the very Italian sound of it all. And yet, I wanted to honor me and T’s commitment and accompanying identity shifts. But how to do it? Hyphens, no hyphens? A combination? New name altogether?
People asked about my plans throughout our engagement. In feeling out my options, people were more opinionated than I expected. “You should do it this way because it will make that easier.” “Well if you do it that way, then this will be harder.” On and on. Keep my name and I’m a crazy feminist. Take his name completely, I’m caving to the dominant heteronormative hegemony. Add a hyphen and I’m just punishing myself. What to do, what to doooo?
In the end, I didn’t spend a long time fretting, I just kept everything. I decided to tack his on and make a new last name–Malvini Redden. Filling out forms will be fun and I’m certain I’ll have to drop my middles on all but the most official documents. Heaven knows I won’t be signing the full five, but I have them all. And that makes me happy.
shawna kristine louise malvini redden
* Up until a couple days ago, I had a 6-year old fiance still waiting in the wings. But his mom let it slip that I’m not a vegetarian and I’m afraid I might be disowned! 🙁