02/06/2015 02:27 pm ET Updated Feb 06, 2015

My Parents Gave Me A Hyphenated Last Name. Here's Why I'll Never Change It.

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I've spent decades protecting my last name like a younger sibling, defending it against confused teachers, frustrated government employees and customer service representatives. I've whiled away hours of my life spelling it out over the phone: Z as in zebra, A as in apple, N as in Naples ... I've had clerks question my true identity and received letters addressed to the likes of Mr. Drew Zondopela-Snard (or some highly creative variation thereof). Mailing lists have always grappled with the fact that, on top of having a complicated last name, I am also a woman with a traditionally male first name.