A Boy Named Chelsea

This guest blog by a guy named Chelsea lets us in on his gender-bender life experiences.

There’s nothing that unusual about being named after a place, except when that place name becomes one of the more popular names for girls during the 1990’s and you are a boy. That’s what happened to me. My name is Chelsea and I am a guy.

I was named after the area in London, England, for sentimental reasons.  My family was about to leave the country just after I was born and weren’t sure if they would ever return. While other names like Bradley, Gary and Kieran were considered, Chelsea, a section of London for which my mother had a particular fondness, won the day. She knew it was a girl’s name, since that was what it was listed under in her book of names, but Chelsea was rarely used back then, particularly in England, and didn’t rank in the top 100 names for girls in the year I was born. She didn’t tell my father about it being listed as a girl’s name though and instead sold it to him on the basis of a link to the famous football/soccer club which seemed masculine enough.

People often ask me what it was like growing up with a girl’s name, but I didn’t even know that I had one until I was seven, so the impact until then was minimal. We were living in France, where Chelsea was even less heard of, and to everyone there I was just a guy with an unusual and hard to pronounce name, as they stumbled over whether it should be a hard or soft “ch” sound and whether the –sea at the end was like the ocean or “see-ah.” Most people called me Chels or Shels, which was a nickname that generally stuck. As for finding out about my having a girl’s name, that happened on a school trip where an American teacher there, but not from our school, assigned me to an all-girl’s group. At that age, this was a rude awakening and led to a fair amount of teasing after the trip too.

We did return back to England when I was ten. Chelsea Clinton was now in the news and the name had reached Number 38 on the UK girls’ list. While it was now impossible to deny that I had a girl’s name, I would still try. I moved from a mixed junior school to an all-boys junior high during this period, but not before my mother had to sort out a mix-up whereby the local education authority had enrolled me into an all-girls school.  But despite this, I still had never met a female Chelsea, so having this so-called girl’s name still seemed somewhat abstract.

That changed when I moved to the US halfway through middle school.  By this time the name had peaked in popularity in the States and was now starting to decline again, but for the first time I met female Chelseas and they met me: one in my year at middle school, three or four in high school, plus a lot of the guys had younger sisters with that name. As you might imagine, the teasing and jokes reared up again and in many ways the middle school years were the worst for me.  Around that time kids are establishing their sexual identity and attacking the sexual identity of a guy with a girl’s name is an easy target. I couldn’t even argue that I had a unisex name. Being called a girl, a sissy, or being asked if I was gay or whether my parents had wanted a girl was not uncommon, but I shouldn’t give the impression that this was an ongoing every day thing either. In fact, there were lots of periods where no one seemed to think twice about my name, so I think it’s how you react to these kinds of taunts that determines whether they continue or not.

One negative aspect however is that I believe it does box you in in some ways. For example, I was very conscious of not doing things that could be seen as girlish for fear that this would fan the flames– e.g. like many teens I wanted to experiment with my look and began to grow my hair longer, until I realized that long hair and a girl’s name just wasn’t a combination that was going to work.

People always ask me whether my name caused a lot of confusion, and there are just too many stories to tell here. The short answer is yes, such as being assigned a girl’s gym locker, having letters addressed to Miss…, etc, which continues to this day.  I have learned to show my photo ID when paying for anything with a credit card before people assume I’ve stolen my wife’s or my girlfriend’s card and I am used to repeating my name and spelling it on the phone as well.

Did I ever consider changing my name, or going by my middle name? Yes, especially in the middle school years.  But I learned that thinking you can hide your first name doesn’t work, and gives the impression you are ashamed of it, which only makes the teasing worse. My mother would never let me change my name, and instead she taught me to stand behind it and be who I am.  Even though we argued about it, in the end I came to understand her reasons for choosing the name and that made it feel even more part of me.

Would I give my child a unisex, or even cross-gender name?  I wouldn’t dismissively rule it out if there was a sentimental or namesake-honoring reason behind it, but I would discuss with the baby’s mother the ups and downs of such a choice. After all, I was named Chelsea before it became highly popular for girls and if Chelsea had not seen a popularity bubble in the 1990’s,  then most people would still imagine that I just had an unusual name, and not so much a girl’s name. Parents with boys whose names are now crossing over to the girls are finding this true too, so it can be hard to predict where a name’s image will fall in the future and perhaps the deeper question is why is it considered more okay for a girl to have a boy’s name, but not the other way around?

Are there any upsides to having a girl’s name? The uniqueness of it is definitely something that can be considered positive if you are willing to embrace it. I think also that some of the experiences I’ve had because of my name may have in part led to me being a different, perhaps better, person than I might have been otherwise.

There’s no doubt that my interest in names stems from having an unusual name, and one interesting (and reassuring) fact that I’ve discovered in the last few years is that Chelsea was a middle name of the captain of England’s famous World Cup winning team in 1966, Bobby Moore.

Chelsea lives in Pennsylvania, is currently working in the area of computer software sales, has a fascination with names and in particular names that cross gender, and is also a Scrabble nut.

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49 Responses to “A Boy Named Chelsea”

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Taye Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 3:25 am

Interesting post! Perhaps because I’m a Kiwi and English soccer news features a lot over here, so before I read the article my first assumption was that your dad must have been a fan of the club and that’s how you got your name. Chelsea on a guy seems pretty cool to me, although I can see how it would cause problems growing up.
I went to school with boys called Ashley, Courtenay, Brook and Maddison, all popular girls names in our age group, but I can’t remember them being teased. Currently the “Cayden/Kaedyn” and “Riley/Rylee” type names are being thrashed to death for babies of both genders (spelling doesn’t always help differentiate, there are boy Kaedyns too), so maybe gender-bender names are seen as more acceptable here than elsewhere?

sarah Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 7:07 am

Excellent post. I have always love love loved the name Whitney for a boy. I realize that at this point it’s almost exclusively feminine but when I hear it the image of Clark Kent’s handsome HS rival Whitney Fordman comes to mind. It sounds strong, Jocular and amiable. Thanks for offering up some male perspective on the issue.

Lola Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 8:19 am

Thanks for the insight, Chelsea! As someone who’s close friends with a male Kelly, I’m a big fan of softer names on boys. I’ve been trying to limit the softness to nicknames (which is tough!) so it’s nice to be forearmed. Thanks Chelsea! 😀

Millikate Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 9:36 am

Thanks for sharing, Chelsea!

Chelsea (cka) Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 10:19 am

Thanks for the comments.

@Taye: I visited Aus for an extended trip once and know a few people over there. Even in the relatively small group of people I got to know (and have since met in cyberspace too) I have noticed a higher ratio of those kinds of names you describe. I know males with the following names: Ashley, Ashleigh, Brooke [with the e], Kelly, Kelsey and Lindsey (from NZ). It strikes me as interesting because Aussie guys have a rep for being tough guys and their having these softer names doesn’t seem to hurt that image.

namefan Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 10:40 am

Chelsea: Good observation on how gender conservatism does not necessarily mean less of a use of unisex names. Even in the U.S., like I’ve described before I notice that guys in regions where they tend to be “tougher” can often pull off these kinds of names better (e.g. you’ll probably find a higher proportion of unisex-named guys in the South than the Northeast).

pdxlibrarian Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 10:44 am

“perhaps the deeper question is why is it considered more okay for a girl to have a boy’s name, but not the other way around?”

I’m interested in this question too. I think it’s very revealing, and that this is bit sad actually.

The first thing that makes me sad is that girl’s names are so toxic for boys that even the hint of a unisex quality will drive off parents. On the flip side, it’s a bonus to give a girl a “strong” masculine or unisex name. The message here seems to be that as a society, we don’t value feminine qualities and we do value masculine qualities (male still = success). I think this is a sad message for girls to hear. Basically, it’s like saying something about girls is so fundamentally awful that other people consider anything associated with being a girl an insult(ie. coaches who call boys in gym “ladies” or saying one “throws like a girl” etc. etc.).

The second thing that makes me sad is that boys are so punished for having any feminine interests or qualities. Although one could say that they have the advantage of not being devalued for being born male, I think too that they are fundamentally robbed of being able to freely pursue whatever interests they have.

How terrible to be forcing half of the population to always censor themselves lest they be too feminine, while simultaneously telling the other half that they contradictorily need to be feminine to be loved but masculine to succeed.

Just my own personal rant.

Chelsea (cka) Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 10:47 am

@namefan: There is a paradox I feel, between the biggest fear parents have of using “softer” names on boys, which is that they are seen as effeminate and so are open to teasing/or actually lead to the boy being effeminate, and then reality, which is that there are numerous examples in the media/sports/celeb world and real life where there are very masculine guys carrying such names – Peyton Manning for example is one here in the US. Some even argue that boys with softer names have to prove themselves and so toughen up to survive. I don’t know if there is any evidence of that either. But I can see that the perception that leads to the fear is a hard thing to shake.

brannon Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 11:11 am

Interesting post as my husband is British and when we were throwing around boys names his brother suggested Chelsea. Only reason it got tossed is because my husband insisted it would be Manchester first 🙂

Chelsea (cka) Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 11:32 am

@brannon: I will tell you that I am not a blues supporter. I like Man Utd too and Liverpool.

There are three names I think you could maybe take from the Premiership without getting overly cr8tv. Chelsea, Everton and maybe at a stretch Villa. I guess Chelsea is the most successful of those though 🙂

Maybe a Man Utd support could go with Trafford.

Olivia Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

A great read. Keep it up Nameberry!

linelei Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

@Pdxlibrarian: I agree with you whole-heartedly! It’s a very sad thing that stereotyped feminine traits are devalued.

I found it interesting what Chelsea said about not feeling able to grow long hair. Chelsea, do you think that, after the teen years, you are still unable to express “feminine” traits, or was it really just the harsh censoring that occurs during those years that kept you from it? Because even boys with extremely “masculine” names are afraid of doing anything to make them stand out or look “sissy” at that age. However, if you still are hindered in expressing yourself due to your name, that’s something to consider.

daisy451 Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Great post, Chelsea! I’m the other way around, a woman with an etymologically male name, though it hasn’t been commonly used on men in almost 100 years. I wouldn’t change my name, but because I’m very interested in language and etymology, it sometimes annoys me that my parents didn’t research my name enough to know that it isn’t a girl’s name, but a male name that is now used on girls. Perhaps if every name was open to every gender, I wouldn’t care so much, but there’s such a double standard and beliefs about which names are acceptable on which genders that I’d really rather stick to traditionally male and traditionally female names.

Chelsea (cka) Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 1:05 pm

@Pdxlibrarian: You make some very good points, and we actually have had some discussions on this in the nameberry discussion forum over the past week along similar lines, and the latent sexism involved in a double standard. Of course, this is broader than names alone.

@linelei: Interesting question. I suppose what you and I would define such traits as might even differ, as its so subjective, but I would definitely say that in college and beyond I felt more able to express those kinds of traits than say in middle school or high school and less “judged” too. So I think there is normal teen stuff at play there. I would also say that I have undergone a progressive willingness to express those kinds of things over time. I think I was more sensitive to how others saw me a few years ago compared with now, but I admit there are still some sensitivities there too. For example when I saw this blog posted last night and saw the gender-bender experiences lead in (in the part I didn’t write) I cringed a little and felt anxious about the responses this blog might get. With all of this said though, I don’t think I am much different to most guys in that regard and some girl friends have told me they feel I am more expressive than most guys they know. So I don’t know 🙂 For the record, I tried growing my hair – it didn’t suit me and didn’t fit in with the work I was doing either 🙂

linelei Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

That’s all good to hear, Chelsea! Even though you did have a tough time of it for a while, I think all-in-all your name did not damage you. So, what I’ve gained from this post is that I’m not going to rule our unisex or “softer” boy names. 🙂

Chelsea (cka) Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

@linelei: That’s good in my opinion and glad I didn’t put you off. When Linda and I were discussing the article I used this expression: the different experiences were like islands of events in a sea of normality. I think the danger of writing an article like I have done here is that you naturally focus on certain moments good and bad, but because they are the interesting moments people want you to discuss. Most of my life was just… normal life and certainly not worthy of a blog post 🙂

One other point I should clarify, re: the teasing issue. Teasing is one thing, but I don’t think I would ever say I got bullied because of my name.

trich323 Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Namefan, I totally agree that regions make a huge difference. I live in the rural south, and even though masculinity tends to be overemphsized to the point of homophobia, names like Kelly and Ashley are pretty common for boys (along with Hunter and Tuff–yes, I actually know two little boys named Tuff). In fact, I’ve only ever met male Shannons. I had no idea it was girl’s name when I was a kid.

Johanna Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

A friend who lives in Australia just named her son Brook which I think is fab.
I have met male Ashleys, Kellys and Carries.
I think Chelsea worked for you because it didn’t have a strong historical background. There were girl Chelseas but not an over abundance. If it were a name like Isabelle, Sophie or Emily it might be a different matter.
BTW I love Chelsea (the place!)

anneNY Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I live in NYC and the hero piolet who safley landed a plane in the Hudson River is named Chelsea! He’s an old guy though but if you came to NY people might think of this hero instead of a girl 🙂

Linz2 Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 8:14 pm

On a smaller scale, one thing I got from the blog was the importance of discussing a name and giving the context for a name. Didn’t the author say that his mother didn’t tell his father that Chelsea was in the girls’ section of the baby name book? Why not include that? Whatever her reasons, it seems to highlight the importance of getting information about a name. If it’s still a great name for your baby, it can stand the test of looking into it and considering nicknames, connotations, gender assumptions, etc. It is sad that we (still) have such a sexist, homophobic culture that girls’-leaning names on a boy could be such an issue. Again, go with the name you want, but, at least, be aware that your child may have to deal with those reactions. The name better be worth the trouble.

Lauren Kay Says:

March 25th, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Re Brooke and Ashley – to me, they are both totally unisex names. I know a few guys with both those names and I’ve never fluttered an eyelash. Maybe Taye is right and there is a bit more tolerance to gender bending names in NZ/Aus.

I think it depends on who you know as well. I only vaguely know one girl called Chelsea and so, since it’s your name too and you’re a guy in my mind it’s traditionally a girls name, but can just as easily be a guys name.

Also, while I definitely agree that there is a somewhat ridiculous double standard, there does come a point where people get their backs up about girls having boys names. I’ve read a few posts on the berry boards trying to talk people out of calling their girl Elliot, for example. My mum went to school with sisters called Craig and Wayne for crying out loud!! I think there is still definitely a line but maybe with boys names on girls its become a bit more blurred…

Ashley Says:

March 26th, 2011 at 1:24 am

I know a male Dana, Shiloh, Courtney, Kerry and my husbands name is Kelsey. I also know a female Brandon and Randy – I think people are becoming more accepting of unisex names

Chelsea (cka) Says:

March 26th, 2011 at 10:09 am

@Johanna: I agree to some extent. As I said, it wasn’t until I came to the US that I even met another Chelsea. Then, Chelsea was a top 20 name while I was still in school, but through a combination of me being a little ahead of the popularity bubble in age and just regional preferences I still didn’t meet a huge number. I was thinking before I wrote this blog entry, in some ways my situation has a slight parallel to Brooklyn Beckham. They chose the name for him before it became really popular for girls, but now it’s shot up, yet it’s not that common a name that you meet all the time, yet common enough for people to comment on it being known as a girl’s name. Chelsea was probably more common than Brooklyn though.

@anneNY: Actually his name was Chesley B. Sullenberger III, but a lot of people see it as Chelsey because they are more familiar with that. I think you are right, although it’s not quite true, and several people have said to me oh, you have the same name as that pilot 🙂

@Linz2: I included that part, because it’s true, she did hide it from him and I didn’t want to gloss over it, since people always ask, well did your father agree to this. And she did that because she suspected he would not have agreed if he knew the association. I won’t say more than this was part of broader communication issues the two of them had that aren’t really appropriate to address here. I also realize that paints my mother in a negative light and what I would say is that it’s not right to judge a person on one action either. As to your main point about communication between both parents on the name choice – I totally agree that is how it should be.

Thanks to @trich323, @Lauren Kay and @Ashley for your comments too. Interesting just how many people do know guys with unisex names.

Taylor/Kittyn Says:

March 26th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Whoa! That’s really cool, Chelsea! Great blog post.

I love soft and feminine names on guys. 😀 If it were (more) acceptable, I would consider things like Anna (Anakin nn Anna? I think this one could work) for a son. Unfortunately, it just won’t do.

It makes me sad that feminine qualities and features in males are discouraged, and that girls are pushed to be masculine. Where is the femininity in the world? I love it when a guy is feminine or has a touch of it in him.

As for myself, my name is Taylor and I am a girl. To my knowledge, my parents were unaware that it was boy’s name when I was born. My mother had never heard of it before, at least not on a child, and they hadn’t a clue of it’s popularity then, also in the early 1990s. My middle name is also equally androgynous.

You know what, though? I love it. I love my name and I don’t care who doesn’t. It has helped me grow in some ways, and get a better understanding of who I am in others. I don’t need a name with a fancy, strong meaning to be successful. I just need to be me.

Forgive me if that last bit didn’t make any sense. D: My name has not affected me in a bad way, however. There?

crazynamegirl Says:

March 27th, 2011 at 12:03 am

Personally, I think boys should have BOY names and girls should have GIRL names. (What a revoulutionary concept!) But I like unisex names (even ones that sound very girly, like Addison) better on boys. I agree that giving a girl a boy name is being sexist. Future parents, keep in mind that right now, Geneveive sounds fresher for a girl than Ryan. (Especially to name-snob ears, of course). By giving your girl a strong female name, she will feel more strong as a woman than if you try to force a male name and male qualities on her. However, I kind of feel the opposite way for boys. Magnus still feels more hip than Riley, but the male population of the world needs to accept that they are not any better than women. I think guys like Chelsea are helping the cause. Good for you for keeping your name!

Chelsea (cka) Says:

March 27th, 2011 at 12:55 am

@Taylor/Kittyn: I think I may have seen Anakin mentioned for boys before on a different site – I actually think Anakin is okay because of the Star Wars association to Anakin Skywalker (who ended up becoming Darth Vader, mind). I think the nn you use is up to you. I’ve seen lot of male names reduced to more feminine sounding forms by close relatives and loved ones – and that’s better than using a feminine name, even if it’s your preference because it gives the little guy more options. Yeah Anakin can say his crazy mom calls him Anna,but his pals can call him Kin or whatever. Just saying, since I see Anakin as quite a male name.

As for Taylor, yes I see this as one of the quite few truly unisex names where people have no real guess for the gender for the name alone. And you had a double adrogynous name. That’s interesting. Would love to chat more about that and how that worked if you are interested. If you visit the forums at all, we could discss in a thread or drop me a PM, my username is cka. That goes for anyone else who wants to discuss some of the issues raised here more.

@crazynamegirl: I’ve definitely met with the sentiment you expressed at the beginning, boys names should be on boys and girls on girls and people have not shied away from expressing that. It’s interesting how you prefer the girlier unisex names on boys though but not the male names on girls; is this maybe because you have stronger views on the symbolism of that? By the way, you made me think on an interesting point I’ve never thought about before. Would women in general respect me more for changing my name from Chelsea to a more regular masculine name, or less, or would it make no real difference. I can see again, especially to women at least that there is more symbolism attached to that than not. Interesting points. Thanks for the comments.

chickpeaz Says:

March 27th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Chelsea, I can honestly say I respect you more for keeping your name than I would if you changed it. If you decided at some point in your life to go by a more masculine nickname (like Chuck or something) I could understand that, but as someone who seriously considered a legal name change, I have to say that it ultimately came down to respecting my parents’ wishes. I’m sure others will strongly disagree with this — there are those who believe that no one should be saddled with a name they dislike, and if it’s easily changed, then by all means, change it — but it sounds like you have a real fondness for your parents and despite some teen angst, you’ve made peace with the unusual name they chose for you. That shows a depth of character that’s lacking in a lot of people (men AND women) today, and I respect you a great deal for it.

And FWIW, I’ve known guys named Tracy, Stacy, Lynn, Kerry, Leslie…ALL of them, without exception, have had a minor identity crisis in their younger days and have grown into men who are quite comfortable in their own skin. It almost seems to be a mark of honor to be among that exclusive club of “guys with challenging names.” 🙂

Skye Rhyly Says:

March 27th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

To be fair though, I dont even think Chelsea is unisex, unlike Tracy, Whitney, Kelly, Hilary, Madison, Kelsey, Skylar, etc… So it might even be harder because even if many unisex names are now very popular on girls, there’s usually someone that already knows a guy with that name. I’m sure it didnt happen to you with Chelsea. But I’m glad you stuck by it.

By the way, I’m male and my name is Skye Rhyly, both unisex names, and I love it hehe.

Macy Says:

March 27th, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Curious that “Baby Name Guesser” seems to think Chelsea is a boys name!

“CHELSEA

It’s a boy!
Based on popular usage, it is 1.458 times more common for Chelsea to be a boy’s name.”

Sara Says:

March 27th, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Great post Chelsea. You have encouraged me to contact my cousin who is male and named Gay. He is in his late 50’s now. Only in the last five years did he switch to his middle name for the stated reason that gay has become more about sexuality than a name – at least as a man. I have always thought of him as my strong, tough cousin – he has an identical twin – and they are both serious outdoorsman.

I have never discussed with him what it has been like to be named Gay – what kind of trials and tribulations the name brought. Obviously he lasted 50 years with it. I do know in my family he is still referred as Gay, his wife and daughter seem to be the ones who have shifted to his middle name.

My Uncle, who named him, says the name is Scandinavian/Norwegian – I have never ran across it and wonder if it should be spelled different. If any nameberries know – would love to hear!

LMM Says:

March 29th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

@AnneNY, the pilot of that airplane was actually named Chesley (pronounced CHEZZ-lee), not Chelsea.

(And, perhaps unrelated, his nickname used often in the press was Sully, for his last name Sullenberger.)

Chelsea, good blog post. I grew up in the South and knew a few boys named Ashley whose mothers must have been die-hard Gone With the Wind fans. I don’t associate the name strongly with being male or female as a result, though I know many more female Ashleys. In the South in general, I think it’s more common to see boys who have been given more-or-less androgynous surnames as first names – and also girls with these names, making it hard to know right away which sex you’ll be dealing with.

At any rate, it sounds like you’ve made lemons out of lemonade with your name, and thanks for an amusing read!

Jen Says:

March 30th, 2011 at 9:28 am

Brilliant post!

@Taye:
Am also from New Zealand and I had the EXACT same reaction when I read the start of this post – your parents must have been fans of the football team!
Although my best friend and three others are named Chelsea I wouldn’t be overly shocked if I met a male Chelsea. I’ve recently met a male Hilary (my new mechanic!), knew a Courtney, Whitney, lots of Ashleys (went by Ash usually), Kelly and a Tammy at school.

I personally like more ‘spunky’ names for girls but don’t really like using unisex names for the sake of it. For example I love Harper or Darcy for a girl but do not like Quinn, Rowan, Riley etc.

Macy Says:

March 30th, 2011 at 11:26 am

Oooo a mechanic named Hilary, now that must be amazing! Tammy is quite unusual on a man too

Chelsea (cka) Says:

March 30th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

@chickpeaz: Thanks for your comments. And I agree in that many of the guys I have met or heard of who have so called “girlier” names are actually pretty well balanced, and often laid back guys. As LMM said later on, we learn to make lemonade out of lemons as part of growing up.

@Skye Rhyly: Skye is a cool name.

@Macy: I’ve seen that before. Isn’t that odd? I like it though 🙂

@Sara: That’s really interesting. I mentioned this to someone on the nb discussion boards who I know is interested in linguistics. She may be able to shed some insight into that name and it’s spelling and if she does find anything I will post it here.

@LMM: Thanks for making me smile with the expression. It made me think that it’s better than being sour right?

@Jen: Thanks for your comment, and I agree with Macy, I’ve never heard Tammy on a guy before. I wonder, was it a nickname or his actual name?

Boston Girl Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 3:35 pm

“…perhaps the deeper question is why is it considered more okay for a girl to have a boy’s name, but not the other way around?”

Exactly my thought. So boys’ names are good for girls, but girls’ names are not good enough for boys. I really find that annoying, but who am I to change entrenched views held by humans the world over? It just seems really unfair to me. As a result of people giving boys’ names to girls, now there are thousands of girls’ names but maybe half that many for boys to choose from. What happens when all the boys’ names have become girls’ names…then what’ll parents name their sons?

That said, my name is Kimberly, Kim for short, which is generally accepted as a girls’ name and has been for quite a few decades at least. Yet when I was around 18, no less an entity than the US Army sent me a reminder to sign up for the draft, addressing me as a Mr. I guess sometimes you just can’t win!

Boston Girl Says:

March 31st, 2011 at 3:41 pm

…and I agree totally with crazynamegirl and particularly pdxlibrarian, who worded my own rant far better than I just did. 🙂 (BTW, pdxlibrarian, my fiancé works in the PDX library system too…small world!)

Macy Says:

April 8th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Chelsea, I suppose it was a Tammy’s proper name – can’t figure out a full male name that could give Tammy as a nickname.

I’ve heard of a male Lacey, I wonder if its another unisex name or a girl name on a boy?

I’m a guy named Chelsea Says:

April 14th, 2011 at 2:52 am

Hey there Chelsea,
Believe it or not my name is Chelsea too. I live in New Zealand and I was named after a English area here named Chelsea. It was funny how I came to find this website blog because I was just talking to a friend and I claimed that I was probably the only guy in the world called Chelsea, so we went googlesearching to find out if I was.. after a few Chelsea football links later we stumbled to your blog and I can totally understand what you went through.. anyways get back at me if you like, it would be cool to know that there’s another guy named after what I still think but others don’t , is a unisex name 🙂

I’m a guy named Chelsea Says:

April 14th, 2011 at 2:58 am

Sorry if it wasnt obvious in my last post, I am a guy too lol

Chelsea (cka) Says:

April 14th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Hi Chelsea. That’s cool. Thanks for leaving a message. And yes, now we can officially petition nameberry to make Chelsea a blue color on their name list too 🙂

If you want to contact me you can reach me on the Community pages here and my user name is cka.

linda Says:

April 14th, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Chels–your wish is our command. Chelsea is now an official nameberry boy’s name!

Chelsea (cka) Says:

April 14th, 2011 at 10:33 pm

@Linda. Well Chelsea above, and I can now say “officially” that we have a unisex name 🙂 Thank you for rubber stamping us 🙂

linda Says:

April 14th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

You made a very convincing argument!

I’m a guy named Chelsea Says:

April 18th, 2011 at 7:26 am

Alleluia! Well done my brother Chelsea, we have finally claimed to the world that our name is unisex. Funnily enough after I posted on here, I decided to put on my facebook status the following comment:
“Just found out that there are other guys called Chelsea out there.. Damn! There goes my world title of being the only guy in the world named Chelsea 🙁 but mean that I can now prove it’s a guy’s name too :)”

To my surprise I had replies from friends who ‘liked’ the status (which is facebook’s way friends favourably approving your status) and a comment from an old school friend who said:” i always thought chelsea was a guys name untill i met a girl named chelsea so you dont need to prove anything :)”

It was really touching and since I found this site and know of a guy called Chelsea too I can now say I am 110% proud of my name and I hope that there will be many parents out there who will popularise as a guys name because in essence Chelsea has always been and will continue to be thanks to nameberry, a boys and girls name. I look fwd to getting tn touch with you Chelsea. God Bless and haere ra to you all from Aotearoa New Zealand!

Candy Says:

June 5th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Hello to both Chelsea’s. I stumbled on this because I have been determined to find other boys named Chelsea. You see, my brother is named Chelsey! He too has felt like the only boy in the world named Chelsey. Since I have a brother named Chelsey and never heard it on a girl until high school, in my mind Chelsey is a masculine name. A great one at that.

The Baby Who Went First | Waltzing More Than Matilda Says:

August 22nd, 2011 at 5:36 pm

[…] has had occasional use as a boy’s name as well. Chelsea at The Name Agender has written about being a man called Chelsea, and you do hear of guys with the name Chelsea every once in a while. There isn’t anything […]

chelsea mc Says:

April 2nd, 2012 at 8:15 am

Hello, my name is also Chelsea and I’m a male as well. I was born in New Zealand ( bit of a trend happening here) and live in Australia. I identified with the article, although by the time I’d reached High school age I was no longer bothered by the teasing- I was just bemused by the idea that they’d thought it would still get to me!I did however desperately want to be called a regular boys’ name in early primary school.. I guess being in France early on gave you somewhat of a reprieve!Have you heard the song “Boy named Sue” by Johnny Cash? Pretty funny and kind of relevant.

More of Your Questions on Unisex Names Answered « Waltzing More Than Matilda Says:

June 24th, 2012 at 3:53 am

[…] at The Name Agender is a man named Chelsea, and he has written an article about growing up as a boy named Chelsea, as well as an interesting article on several men and boys named Chelsea, including a celebrity […]

CharacterNamer Says:

January 28th, 2013 at 6:09 pm

My name’s Cameron, and I understand part of that, as I was put in the boys’ PE locker hall at school last year, but for me it’s never been nearly that bad, and I didn’t experience any teasing (Except for one guy who called me Camcorder. Why not Camera?). But I always have a severe frustration when people gender-bend names because they aren’t the person who’s going to have to deal with having a name normally used for the opposite gender (And my experiences haven’t even been all that bad!)

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