Category: gender bending names
There are a handful of super-controversial topics in baby naming.
Creative spellings. Surnames-as-firsts. And, of course, boys’ names on girls.
The first two are easier, I think. They’re about style and preference. If you love the look of Madelyn, no amount of cajoling will convince you that it really must be Madeline. And either surnames like Lincoln and Bellamy make your shortlist, or not.
But when it comes to gender, there’s more at stake.
Some of us probably felt vindicated. Of course you shouldn’t give a boy’s name to a girl!
Others probably thought: If only they’d chosen Justine instead.
Miss Justin might be an extreme case, but this week’s name news reminds us that the range of possibilities for girls is vast. From conventionally masculine names to modern inventions to antique revivals, we are willing to be daring when naming daughters.
Kids who defy gender stereotypes – and how best to parent them – is a hot topic these days. The New York Times recently featured a story on boys in tutus and girls with Mohawks on its front page. And when the J. Crew catalog carried a photo spread of its fashion director painting her 4-year-old son’s toenails pink, it sparked an outpouring of both criticism and support.
Whatever your feeling about pedicures for boys, names that push the gender envelope are among the hottest baby name trends. The most recent statistics on names making the biggest leaps up the popularity ladder show names that break with both feminine and masculine conventions leading the lists.
For both sexes, these include truly unisex names such as Quinn and Karter and names long favored for one sex jumping gender lines (Charlie going to the girls’ side and Terry to the boys’). There are also girlish spins on boys’ names and vice versa, such as Danna and Jayleen for girls and Rhys and Emmett for boys.
And then there are the names that are used almost exclusively for one gender but carry qualities usually associated with the other: I’m thinking of the hard-edged Kinley or Kenzie for girls and the soft-sounding Greyson and Jasper for boys.
Here, 20 gender-bending names that crowd the tops of the fastest-rising lists for both girls and boys, in order of how many places they’ve moved up the ladder.
Last week’s post was all about the trendsetting Pinkett-Smith family and their son Jaden Christopher Syre, named after mom Jada. This week the spotlight turns to daughter Willow Camille Reign, after dad Will. While plenty of parents chose appellations that honor loved ones, crossing gender lines opens up some inventive options for girls’ names.
At first glance, this is easy for girls’ names. There are plenty of traditional equivalents, like Charles/Charlotte or Alexander/Alexandra. But what if you’re trying to name a daughter after your brother Chad? Or you adore your uncle Patrick, but you can’t imagine calling your little one Patricia?
Parents have grafted together some unusual choices over the years. There are just add –ette or –elle names, like Danette and Donelle; ends-in-ie choices, like Artie and Bennie; and double names, from Bobbie Sue to Rayanne. Some may be carefully chosen, but Markie or Hughette can sound like afterthoughts, hastily cobbled together when the parents heard the words, “It’s a girl!”
Sometimes parents just pass on the masculine moniker, but there is a world of options for naming a daughter Pinkett-Smith style. It’s not just Will and Jade, either. Emeril Lagasse called his daughter Meril.