Hyphenated last names get a bum rap in our culture. The idea that a woman would (gasp!) choose not to take her man’s name is somehow seen as the ultimate insult to his manhood and to the family, in general. Back when I was first engaged in 2002, when I was just 24, I remember a friend’s wife sighing loudly at my hemming and hawing over the potential name change decision.
“Oh for god’s sake,” she told me, “just take his name and stop making it such a feminist big deal.”
But it was a big deal to me. As a writer, I had already written hundreds of stories with my byline “Sasha Brown.” It was my father’s last name and my sister’s last name and the last name I’d had my entire life. The thought of becoming something else, becoming a “Worsham” even though I loved a man with that last name, seemed ridiculous. Also, I liked being Brown. It is easy to spell, at the beginning of the alphabet and fairly unassuming. It doesn’t tell you anything about my background or lineage. I liked the anonymity of it.
My fiance (at the time) didn’t care either way. “Do what feels right,” he told me. This left me in the position of having to decide. Yes, I wanted the same last name as my future children. No I didn’t want to give up my name, my identity, my family of origin, and my byline. So I made a decision. I split the difference. I would be known, from the age of 25 when I got married, as Sasha Brown-Worsham.
Now, nearly 13 years later, I can say there are some incredibly annoying things about having a hyphenated last name. No one can spell it. This drives me insane. I am now in the habit of saying: “Sasha Brown-Worsham, that’s B-R-O-W-N, hypen W-O-R-S-H-A-M, as in Mary.” And it is still often misspelled. Also, it is long. I can’t fit it all neatly into a little space the way I once could with Brown. I also don’t love having a different last name than my kids. In retrospect, I wish I had insisted we all hyphenate and then given the kids that same last name.
But the truth is, I am glad I split the difference. I am still connected to my history. But I am also connected to my future. And now, three kids in, and a decade plus of love and fights and adventures and moves and life with my family, being “a Worsham” just makes sense.