Gender-unclear names

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Gender-unclear names

I hate gender "unclear" names. Hate hate hate. I don't get them at all, it seems like such a negative thing to do like you are burdening your child with a lifetime of being mistaken for the opposite gender, as well as being teased, a boy with a feminine name or a girl with a masculine name just seems wrong. (Examples: boys named Shannon or Kim, or girls named Ryan or Tyler.) Can someone please explain to me why on earth you would give your child a name that is not usually associated with their gender?

My brother and SIL are expecting, and their GIRLS name is Alex. Not Alexa or Alexis or Alexandra, just Alex. I personally hate it. Alex is a BOYS name! (Yes, I KNOW there is probably another girl out there named Alex, but it is still traditionally a BOYS name!) I can't tell them that of course, so I guess I just need some help accepting this boy's name for my niece. Can someone please help sell me on the benefits of a girl with a boy's name?

brookie13's picture
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first, im not sure how you can classify alex as a strictly male name... its a short-form of many names, male or female. it would a short version of alexander,alexei or alexandro for men and alexa, alexis, alexandria or alexandra for women. so, its more of a nickname than a gender strict name. if your family named their daughter alexa, but called her strictly Alex (as many names do get shortformed) how would you feel about that?

also, many names that are considered strictly female names these days were once male names... ashley, madison, terry, kelly, alexis for example.

personally i think there are much worse things you can do to a child than give it a gender neutral name. like making up names, super unique miss-spelled names, or overly weird names (ie tallula does the hula.. the little girl who was in the news)

my daughters name is Hayden, which i first heard used for a girl when actress Hayden Panettiere started her career. i paired it with what is considered a more "feminine" middle name (alexandra) and have had nothing but compliments. even my super old-fashioned grandmother loves it. Personally i dont care for the overly girly names that are becoming ridiculously popular-- ava, olivia, sophia.. well, its not that i DONT like them, as much as i dont like that my child would then be "Sophia last initial"
and your kid will be teased no matter what you name them, its a part of childhood. if you give them a "gender specific" name, they will just find another area to tease them about. i have a male cousin shannon, a male friend named kelly and a female friend named Parker... and none of them have ever complained about their names, actually Parker loves that she has a less used girl name, because it makes her more memorable. actually a gender neutral name could actually help you when it comes to job applications, or anywhere gender could be an issue, as with jobs, often females are skipped over positions in favour of men. if you have a name that could go either way, your not going to have that immediate bias.
and in my opinion there is nothing cuter than a girly, pink dress and lace wearing little girl with a "gender neutral" name.

stuntmonkey's picture
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I have a gender neutral name. I don't hate it, but I did choose a feminine name for my daughter and a masculine name for my son very much on purpose.

My parents gave me my name because it is a combination of their first names. I'm not sure how much being "gender neutral" factored into it because they had a different name planned for a boy.

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My son's name is Taylor which is very gender nuetral but more so female then male because that was my grandma's, who helped raise me, maiden name and I wanted to honor her. She died this past July. Some people choose to name their child something because they like it others because it honors a family member. Other people who knows.

I know of a pair of siblings that are both boys and are Taiylor and Trevvor they arent THAT bad but WTFH. Try working in a school you see everything. La-a (Ladasha), Saira, Kyty(Katie) and so on. I figure as long as it fits the family/child who cares. You might not like it but its not your child. There are plenty of names I dont like but I dont say anything since its not my place and not the childs fault the parents named them that. One of my biggest annoyances is using a Y instead of the vowel that is supposed to be there or adding letters that dont belong just for the fun of it.

I'm actually semi considering Tyler for this little girl I'm pregnant with. I havent decided fully on the name. My best friend from when I was a kid has a niece named Tyler.

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We are naming our daughter Emerson/Emersyn (haven't decided on the spelling), which is more masculine than feminine. When I first told my family, my grandma said... "For a girl? When she's 18 she's going to get a draft card!"
I think its just a sign of the times.. uni-sex names are the new trend, especially for girls, because of female independence and wanting to be "strong."

Personally, I hate anything too girly or frilly, and naming my daughter a cutesy girl name just wouldn't fit my personality, and if she's anything like me -- it wouldn't fit hers either. Its just what fits for a particular family, and when it comes down to it, its all just preference. Take it or leave it, I guess Smile

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I also chose a name for my daughter that can be used for a boy or a girl. To me, it sounds more feminine, and it is being used more feminine today. There are some advantages to naming your daughter something like that though. I recently read an article on one of the naming sites talking about how girls named less feminine more gender neutral names were more likely to advance career wise and make more money. I wonder if part of it is just getting their foot in the door for an interview. Unfortunately as much as things have advanced, women are still (overall- I'm sure there are exceptions) not making as much as men do for doing the same thing. Just another perspective. Smile

I also do not see Alex as strictly a boys name- I see it as a nickname for both boys & girls. I know I'm also reluctant to name a child one thing and call it something else (i.e. my husband likes Alexis - but would want to call her "Lexi.")... and I wonder if that might be what your brother & SIL are thinking? Shannon I believe was also traditionally a boys name. MANY girls names that we think of as strictly girls names started out as boys names.. so sometimes thats a hard line to define.

VickiS's picture
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It's an interesting debate.

Personally I would avoid those names, athough I think it is up to the individual what they name their child, and I suspect the 'gender neutral' name thing is probably a fashion that will wax and wane with time.

However all the responses on here about girls. I can't see that it does a girl any harm to have a 'boy's' name. However it must be frustrating for those with boys who see their name used for girls and therefore 'feminised'. It also starts to limit the options for boys' names even further as so many of them now COULD be a girl's name.

(As an aside, coming from the UK I find the misuse of Welsh names quite annoying. In Welsh names the 'y' (as in Gwyn) makes it masculine, the 'e' is for girls (as in Gwen). So a lot of Welsh names are the same for boys and girls except for the spelling, which tells you which gender it is. I therefore find it quite funny when lots of people use 'y' in names to make it more feminine, when in that language it does the opposite! So Bronwyn is male, Bronwen is female, Anwyn male and Anwen female, etc.etc.)

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As a girl with a boys name I have never resented my parents for naming me what they did. Everyone gets teased a few times in their lives. And if it's not about the name, it's about something else.

I can't say much for boys who are given girls' names but it definitely has advantages for a girl to have a name that can't be immediately pinned with a particular gender. If it had my resume looked at a little longer then it's been worth it. If I were to become a writer, yup, even this day and age, it would be to my advantage. Not to mention there are far worse 'burdens' then a name that is gender neutral.

I don't deal with being mistaken for a boy every single day. Not even every year. It has only happened *maybe* a handful of times. And I laugh. It's not the curse you are making it out to be. Besides, Alex is quite commonly a female name, so your niece may never have that.

I think what you need to do is stop wasting time on hating a name genre.

elaniemay's picture
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I named my son Reese, which is neutral but more male to me *shrugs*. I think gender neutral names are fine if they fit what you want, and MUCH prefer them to spelling regular names in RIDICULOUS fashions! Or doing things like Nevaeh...good Lord people, we all know your baby is a gift we don't need it spelled in their names. THAT bugs me far more than gender neutral ever could. I always think, "How would this look on a job application?" I review job apps all the time and I can say that a name says so much about a person, first impression-wise and when you haven't met them yet, and they didn't even choose it! Do your children justice hehe.

Lil Momma 1991's picture
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Personally every girl I have ever met with a gender neutral name has been alot more outgoing and self-helping then girls with overly girly names. Tho thats not going to stop me from nameing my daughters things like Kysea, Joyce or Sophi. I would rather see a little girl names Ryan or Tyler or Matthew. Then to see another little girl named Jayden, Ashley, or Kayla, Katlynn, Kathrine. They are all so popular that its overly annoying when your trying to get a hold of someone in a store and you call out "Hey Kayla" And 5 or 6 people all look at you. But I agree there are worse things you could do. I have a little cousin and her name it Ryleigh "Riley" and another one names "Kaylor" But then again I have a set of cousins names Pheonix and Phillidalphia. So I would rather see a kid with a gender neutral name then a kid with a extremly abstrat name like those. Tho I do think girls with gender neutral names will have it a bit easier then boys with a gender neutral name. Kelly just doesnt seem right to name a son.

katlady1974's picture
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i have to agree that i'm not a fan of gender neutral names either. hence my girls are named nadia and ava Smile i struggled with ava's name because i heard it before it became popular and loved it. for months i tried to come up with something else but nothing compared for me. and so far she is a VERY strong willed, indpendent little girl. she's not doing anything she doesn't want to do. just like her big sister... and her mommy Smile

now, as for the "trend" of creative spellings or made up names.... that drives me INSANE! naming your child is not the time to be creative.

onelittlemonkey's picture
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I think it's okay to name a girl a traditional boy's name, but not the other way around. Someone made a good point that a lot of common girl's names (like Ashley) were originally boys names, but I still wouldn't name my son Ashley. To me, it's just asking to be teased. There was also a good point made about in the workplace - why would anyone want to give their son a disadvantage. It's not fair, but it happens. I don't see any disadvantages to giving a girl a boy's name though.

Minx_Kristi's picture
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Some gender neautral names you can get away with, like Ashley, Jordan AND Tyler. I was thinking Tyler for DD but only spelt Thaila. More feminine I thought.

Names that annoy me are Josh, Jake and Jack. FAR too common in the UK. Jayden is more American but used way too much here too.

Pretty much anything ending EN or ON I don't like.


butterflykissesx6's picture
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I think alot of boys names that are now typically girls names are from the 60's. Kelly, Shannon, Kim, etc. I think it just shows that times change. I don't hate gender neutral names.

I am considering a gender neutral name for #6. Kamryn for a girl.

Naming a child is a very serious job and not to be taken lightly. If you look at my kids names they went from being pretty common to a little less common. I really hated my name growing up but now that I'm older I enjoy a less common name.

Seapony's picture
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My husband's name is Jen. His dad named him from when he heard his (Japanese) wife speaking to her family on the phone. In Japan its spelled JIN but he didnt want his son teased like Gin and Tonic, so he changed the spelling so it was like a girl's name. He hates his name, but I love it!

I would love to name a daughter James (mostly so it wont be shortened to jim or jimmy) after my father, but my husband simply will not allow it.

Another note, my sister is named Robin Ashley and when they sent announcements to England, they thought she was a HE.

BabyInside's picture
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I mostly agree with the OP. I think some gender neutral names are cute, but when someone calls your house and expects a boy and the girl who answers says, "speaking", that kind of throws you off.

Off spellings will haunt a child for the rest of their life. Everytime they tell someone their name they will have to emphasize that it's spelt differently and I think that will be a pain for them. I worked with a gal who named her daughter something like Vanessa, but then spelt it different and she said she regrets spelling it weird.

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I generally do not like boys names used as girls names (which is what they are, there aren't gender neutral names in English, there are never and girls names used as boys names). I wish the lovely masculine names Jocelyn, Robin, Shannon, Ashley, Whitney, and others were still masculine names. In English there is a shortage of boys names compared to girls names anyway, so you would think it would be easier for parents of girls to choose a name. If you want something different instead of taking a boys name for a girl, why not choose a lovely name from another language? Just do it authentically. Make sure that it is used correctly. If you misspell it or invent a meaning or a name and then attribute it to another language instead of admitting it was made up then I think it is embarassing for the parents and will potentially make the child embarassed.

For example, there is a new English name "Kaida" which someone somewhere has said means "little dragon" in Japanese. It doesn't. It's not a Japanese name. How embarassing would it be for a kid to meet a new Japanese friend, explain their name, and have the Japanese friend laugh?

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I think gender neutral names are just fine. But I am of the school of kids will tease kids, for their first name, last name, hair color, height, body type, etc. It is inevitable. I think parents can help their child to love their name. I make sure I often tell my kids why their name is special, what about it made us pick their first and middle name. (My mom did tha same with her 8 kids, I don't think any of us hate our names). My daughter has a made up name, Brilee. She is named after her daddy, Brian Lee. But I think at some point every name was made up. Smile

As to naming girls boy names a new trend that will fade, I doubt it. Smile Thats why there are less and less boy names, because girls have been taking over them for some time. Before Tyler and Jordan it was Kim, Kelly, and Terry, before that it was Shirley and Sharon, etc. Smile

Holly_Anne618's picture
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I'm not one that really cares one way or another about gender "unclear" names. All of my kids have names that could go either way. The first time I heard Addison, it was a little boy. I remember thinking I would never use that name, and then 10 years later...bam. I have an Addison. I know Lauryn can be used as a boy name if it's spelled different...Loren I think. And Cameron, well, we were going to name this little one Camryn/Cameron regardless. I think to some extent you can help elimate some of the confusion by the way you spell it, but I'm one that doesn't really like made up spellings.

I'm sorry that you're not feeling your neice's new name. Hopefully once you meet her, it'll just click for you!

beckiwill's picture
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wow this thread has been going on for a while, but I just had to put in my two cents!

I dont mind gender unclear names, as many have said I love the unique-ness of it, and I think it can make for striking recognition and interest. Anyhow, the point I wanted to add in here has to do with my own experience of naming my boys.

My eldest son, Orion, has a huge problem I never dreamed would happen. People simply are NOT familiar with the classics and have no idea who the mythical man was, nor even about the constellation (in some cases). I seriously did not expect that most people wouldnt get it (even though they read it). We have had nurses and doctors not understand where we got the name from! It just drives me crazy..

And our little guy is named Griffin after another myth, this time a mythical beast. But originally it was a last name, and that is another trend that I enjoy. I think if you are going to be creative and innovative you dont have to pull letters out of a hat and name your child, or totally make things up. Choose names that mean something to you, whether they originally belonged to another gender, or were a last name, or a mix of family names, or havent been used in hundreds of years, go for it!... It matters to me that my children have names that I chose especially for them.

bonjour24's picture
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i wanted to pipe in here too! such a fun thread but after all, this is only personal opinion.
IMO i think you can call a boy lucy if you want to- he will be teased, but feel free to do it. you can call a girl bob- again like pps have said, not as bad for a girl to have a boys name (i think it's cute, but should have a longer feminine name).

the thing that i find really mean is when kids have those daft made up names. like shaqueena, shakeyena, and stuff like that. i just don't think those parents think. and it's all good to have a name that is just o so cute for a baby. but what about when that baby becomes an adult? i can't really think of many people that have acheived success (regardless of what your definition of success is, unless it's being on benefits) with a name that's all stupid.
over here in NZ there was a kid called 'number13busshelter'. and there was a 'sexfruit'. WTF. how mean is that?
just my opinion tho.

mcvicwif's picture
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"bonjour24" wrote:

i wanted to pipe in here too! such a fun thread but after all, this is only personal opinion.
IMO i think you can call a boy lucy if you want to- he will be teased, but feel free to do it. you can call a girl bob- again like pps have said, not as bad for a girl to have a boys name (i think it's cute, but should have a longer feminine name).

the thing that i find really mean is when kids have those daft made up names. like shaqueena, shakeyena, and stuff like that. i just don't think those parents think. and it's all good to have a name that is just o so cute for a baby. but what about when that baby becomes an adult? i can't really think of many people that have acheived success (regardless of what your definition of success is, unless it's being on benefits) with a name that's all stupid.
over here in NZ there was a kid called 'number13busshelter'. and there was a 'sexfruit'. WTF. how mean is that?
just my opinion tho.

Be kind
Seriously?? Number13busshelter? Sexfruit? I feel so bad for thoes kids! if I was post pardem I would be crying.

Now my 2 cents: My name is Kacee ( I know unique spelling and a boy name!) I like it. I always have. Even when I was little. I was named after my grandfather Cornelious Casey.
So I could have gotten the name Corni. I am forever grateful. I loved my grandfather and it makes my name feel special to me.
My oldest Daughter is Kelcee Riann. A boys version:Kelsey Ryan. Her name was molded from mine and her middle is my best friends first name.

My sons Middle name is Riley- he is 13 but now days it is a girls name. He was named after my cousin's sur name.

DD# 3 Emma Louise... All girl here but also Family inspired
DD#4 IYLA EVELYN (Iyla taken from Isla my husband is scottish and I hated the way it was spelled. ) Evelyn after 2 great grandmothers.

My point (if you can find it )that baby names, gender traditional, or not. Mis spelled or even a family male name given to a baby girl. It is now that childs uniqueness and your family's history living on. JUST Be kind, after all how many "sexfruits" does there need to be?

Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
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Shakeyena and Kelcee are the same kinds of names to me. Kind of like Seksfruyt.