Category: unisex baby names
Many of today’s most fashionable boys’ names carry a gender identity that’s decidedly masculine but not conventionally so, softer than macho but stronger than unisex. These boys’ names fall right in the middle on the gender scale, in contrast to their stylish female counterparts, which tend to be ultra-feminine (Arabella, Ophelia) or frankly boyish (Hayden, Frankie).
Many of these hot new boys’ names carry sounds that are soft and/or traditionally connected to girls’ names, such as vowel endings, and so depart from the classic male names once dominant. These stylish boys’ names with a fresh gender identity include:
This week’s names in the news cross gender boundaries. Some of them are more popular for boys, others for girls, and some are so rare they could go either way. See what you think – are these names more boy or girl to you?
By Linda Rosenkrantz
You can always count on a few titters when people hear that macho John Wayne’s birth name was Marion. They’re not aware that when he was born in 1907 Marion—also the name of an infamous Washington DC mayor– was Number 106 on the boys’ list–which also included Leslie, Aubrey, Harley, Merle, Carroll, Cleo, Clair, Lynn, and Pearl (the real name of Wyatt Earp) in the Top 400.
All those names plus many more modern ones have gone to the girls, leading to a lot of talk about gender inequality, of this being a one-way street. Well, maybe it’s time to reverse that trend, for boys to reclaim some of the names they’ve lost.
It’s probably too soon for a name like Ashley, which was the fourth most popular name for girls just a few years ago, or the patronymic Addison, which reached Number 11 in 2010, and for others like Avery and Aubrey that are climbing for girls as we speak. And some once-male-accepted names like Vivian and Evelyn have been seen as strictly feminine for far too long to ever come back.
But here are a few that are not as high on the pink list, some with strong male namesakes, that well might be ready to cross back into the blue, and conceivably work for a 21st century boy.
I’m going to talk about my son Jayne.
Jayne is a sometimes happy, sometimes whiny, always snuggly terror of a two-and-a-half-year-old. Basically, he’s a typical toddler. Jayne is also big. He’s tall and very dense, and people constantly think he’s older than he is. I’m giving you this detail for a reason that will make sense in a bit.
He also has a traditionally female name: Jayne. There is no difference in how it is pronounced and no, we don’t shorten it and call him Jay, or Arthur (his middle name) or Wyatt (another middle name). His name is Jayne.
They’ve found the perfect name, but it breaks all the rules. How can they reconcile using the name they love with their long-held preferences?
My husband and I are expecting our first baby, a daughter, in May. We have finally found “the” name, but I feel like a hypocrite! We spent years carefully compiling and editing our name list, only to find that our little girl’s name was never even on it. I like Lucille, Sybil, and Marceline. My husband likes Winifred and Violet. But sweet little Jay will be given her daddy’s middle name, and it feels incredibly easy and right. We knew it was her name the minute we said it aloud. We love the simplicity of it, that it FEELS so good, and I love naming her after her dad. But Jay is a boy name!
While I certainly support the new gender neutral naming trend, I often feel that what people perceive as genderless is actually anything but. It’s odd to me that naming daughters things like James and Elliot is so trendy right now, but these same parents wouldn’t necessarily name a son Sarah or Jennifer. Seems like a one-way street of “boys” names for girls, but not “girl” names for boys.
How can I make peace with bestowing a traditionally “boy” name upon our daughter, when our taste is otherwise feminine and vintage?
The Name Sage replies: