70+ Gender Neutral Names: The Pros, Cons & Considerations
When choosing your baby's name, you might fall into the debate between the pros and cons of gender neutral names and how they will impact your child's life, but it might not make a difference.
A new bundle of joy on the way comes with so many thrilling (albeit tiring) preparations. There’s setting up a nursery, planning a feeding schedule, and of course, stocking up on lots and lots of diapers. One of the top and most enticing parts of impending parenthood is deciding what to name your child-to-be.
Coming up with the perfect name for your baby can be so much fun. You can consult baby books, scroll through web pages, and consult your family history chart for ancestral names that deserve a second run. You’ll spend countless hours compiling – and possibly crumbling up – your baby name lists.
The baby-naming process is essential – after all, the name you choose will shape your child's life in some capacity, and potentially for their entire life. And one of the decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not to give your newest family member a gender-neutral name.
Gender-neutral baby names are more popular than ever before, giving parents the opportunity and freedom to be extra creative when choosing the perfect name for their baby. Is a unisex name something you’ve been considering? Know that you’re not alone.
The Name Game
So, what’s in a name? Everything! Whether you have been thinking up baby names since you were a little kid, or you only have a few weeks left before you narrow it down, naming your baby is going to be an incredible achievement. This newest member of the world is your pride and joy, and you want a name that reflects that.
Naming your baby is a pivotal parenting step that seems so natural. But it can become a struggle and stressful, with endless names to choose from and other people's input to acknowledge. You may be choosing a baby name along with your spouse, inheriting one passed down from family lineage, or literally putting together letters in a new way to come with a name that's all your own.
Maybe you're not sure where to begin. Should you go for something unique or familiar? How will your baby’s first name pair with the baby's middle and last name? What would your child’s initials be? Are you interested in having a "Junior" or naming your new baby something that goes well with or starts with the same letter as their siblings' names? How many syllables do you want the name to be and how should you spell it? And while you can always pick a name that has been traditionally gender-specific, with more and more gender-neutral names becoming the norm, is that the path you’d like to take?
If a barrage of questions is flooding your mind over selecting a baby name, let's first take a deep breath. There's no reason to make this amazing moment of parenthood more agonizing than you anticipated. Here at Posh Peanut, we've compiled a handy list of things to consider when considering a gender-neutral name.
Considering A Gender-Neutral Name?
You’re ready to give your impending bundle of joy a gender-neutral name, but you’re wondering if everyone in your household is on board. Choosing to go with a traditionally gender-specific name or color outside the lines with a name that’s neutral can quickly turn into a back-and-forth internal debate for your family. There are pros as well as cons to consider. Set aside some quality time with your spouse and loved ones to discuss all the issues so you can collectively make an informed decision.
Neutral Or Not?
If giving your baby a unisex name isn’t a significant issue, that’s great news! It definitely supports your desire to do so in the first place. For others, gender-neutral names can have their unique attributes as well as their drawbacks. Expecting a boy? Or a girl? With a gender-neutral name, you will not have to play into the traditional "pink" or "blue" themes, which, if we’re honest, can feel a little overwhelming at times. Going from something old-fashioned to a more modern moniker, your gender-neutral naming adventure can be worth every sentiment. Or maybe it’s causing you a headache you just don’t need. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of naming your baby with a gender-neutral name, and you’ll have all the tools you need to see if the idea appeals to you.
The Pros Of Gender-Neutral Names
Here are some of the great reasons why you should give your child a gender-neutral name.
Gender Neutral, What A Lovely Sound!
If you are waiting until birth to find out your baby's sex, a one-and-done name selection simplifies things. If you wanted to start referring to your baby by name before the child is born, you’re all set, no matter what the child’s gender.
Raising Gender-Neutral Children
You want your child to be able to be their authentic self as they grow up. You’ve decided to avoid things that could identify your child's gender right off the bat, including what your child is called. A gender-neutral name allows your child to define themselves freely in their own accord.
Won't Conform To "Gender Norms"
What’s in a name? Some say it defines what your child’s roles should be. Removing what could be considered “masculine” or “feminine” might help give your child the freedom of pushing beyond what is conventionally accepted for boys and girls. This non-conformed exploration can be essential in your child’s growth.
An Even Playing Field
A child with a gender-neutral name won’t be automatically judged just by their moniker before they communicate or meet someone. That could reduce the chance of preconceived notions, biases, or discrimination being placed on your child.
The Options Are Expanding
More and more parents are blending the line between gender-specific names, we’re looking at you girls named Sawyer, Hunter, Ryan, Dallas, Ellis, and August. Not only does this expand your pool of potential names, but you could also start the next baby name trend by giving your child a name widely used for the opposite gender.
The Cons Of Gender-Neutral Names
Here are some reasons people think that using a gender-neutral name could be a mistake.
Some Names Still "Lean" Toward One Gender Over Another
We’re pleased to see that many baby names are becoming more unisex and deemed "acceptable" for anyone. But there are still certain names favored for a specific gender. For example, you’re all ready to name your newborn son “Kelly,” even though the majority of people in your region still use the name for girls. Could he become self-conscious or embarrassed by his perceived "feminine" name once he’s in school? You need to think ahead about how you’ll handle this for your child.
Confusion And Mix-ups
Giving your child a gender-neutral name could cause some confusion. Birthday party invitations could go to the wrong “Alex.” Your child may be accidentally assigned to an opposite-gender team. Your kid could become "Jordan, the boy" or "Jordan, the girl" among their classmates and peers, perhaps even by their teachers. Yes, we know that you’ll work overtime to keep these embarrassing moments from happening, but mix-ups can slip through, and they could become a recurring issue. Explaining or correcting others all the time could become a nuisance, one you’re not willing to put your child through.
You’re loving the name "Charlie" for your baby girl. Your family, not so much. Some people close to you might not be as enthusiastic, and attempting to win them over could result in hard feelings or awkwardness. "Grandpa Charles'" moniker is now bestowed on his granddaughter Charlie? Actually, we think if his name is honored in this way, it will turn him right around!
Kids can be brutal when they tease and worse when they bully. No matter how much you prepare your son "Paris," he might never hear the end of it. The memories of being made fun of could last a long time. Is your uncommon boy's name choice worth the heartache?
Breaking Norms With Names
We have certainly come a long way in terms of baby names in general. Names such as "Jamie," "Shawn," "Taylor," and "Sam" have been considered unisex universally and could be a safe path if you want to try a unisex name on for size. Or maybe you are the type who’s always breaking barriers. You're set on giving your child a traditional gender name mostly used on the opposite sex, like naming your daughter "Steven." Some people may not get it and acceptance and understanding may take a while. Just be prepared for your child to have an opinion as she or they get older. If your child is not particularly thrilled with their name, give them the leeway to come up with a nickname that allows your child to reflect an authentic self.
But why should traditional names be the only option for your kids? Celebrities have named their children after fruit (Apple); cities (Chicago); and careers (Pilot Inspektor), just to name some of the fun ones. We can pretty safely say these celeb examples could very well be considered gender-neutral names. It just goes to show that a non-binary baby name doesn't have to be gender-specific or an existing name at all!
One Of (Too) Many
Remember that moment when your baby finally arrived? You stood behind that cute idea to name your daughter "Dylan,” thinking she would be the only one with this popular "boy's" name in her peer group. But you’ve come to discover it's a thought your whole community also had. There is nothing wrong with having the same name as another child. Think about how many "Michaels," "Adams," Amys," and "Jennifers" you knew growing up. But you were hoping that your child's name to stand out from the rest of the pack. With how quickly the appeal of unisex names is catching on nowadays, it’s a chance you take.
We say go ahead and love the gender-neutral name you choose for your baby, and don’t worry about it too much if another child in your community carries the same name. Great minds think alike, so you may find a new pal in parenting. And even more importantly, if more and more children share a gender-neutral moniker, it should eventually cancel out the stigmas associated with it.
The Most Popular Gender-Neutral Names On The Planet
Time for the fun stuff! You are 99% in favor of going with a unisex name -- you just need to finalize your ultimate decision.
Here are some of the most popular gender-neutral names you can consider, along with the ones mentioned throughout this article.
There are plenty more where these came from, so do your searches online, crack open some baby name books (and their meanings), and ask around. Baby name inspiration is everywhere!
Keep It In The Middle
Bestowing your baby with a unisex first name isn't feeling quite right? Perhaps a gender-neutral middle name is more your speed. A unisex middle name may be just what you need for a balanced full name, one you will feel more comfortable with for the long haul. It could be that you wind up loving that middle moniker so much that you wind up calling your child by it! Here are some of our favorite combinations:
- Allison Jesse
- Ella River
- Julie Owen
- Meredith Morgan
- Rebecca Payton
- Aaron August
- Luke Shannon
- Marcus Avery
- Nelson Dakota
- William Sage
Reach for the Stars
You don't have to look any further than the glitz and glam of Hollywood for gender-neutral baby name motivation. Some of your favorite stars have unisex names that have certainly worked out well for them. Check these out:
- Blair Underwood
- Blake Lively
- Cameron Diaz
- Dana Carvey
- Daryl Hannah
- Darryl Strawberry
- Glenn Close
- Jamie Foxx
- Jamie Lee Curtis
- Jamie Lynn Spears
- Joey Lauren Adams
- Kendall Jenner
- Kyle Richards
- Leslie Nielsen
- Lindsay Buckingham
- Madison Beer
- Michael Michele
- Morgan Freeman
- Reece Witherspoon
- Robin Williams
- Robin Wright
- Ryan Gosling
- Ryan Reynolds
- Sacha Baron Cohen
- Sean Penn
- Sean Young
- Stevie Nicks
- Tracy Morgan
To Neutral Or Not To Neutral: Final Thoughts
Giving your new bundle of joy a gender-neutral name could be super cute, which makes it something worth considering. Take time to weigh the pros and cons, get feedback from people who are important to you, and in the end, go with your gut. No matter what you name your baby, they'll always be your precious peanut!
Does your child have a gender-neutral name? Share it with us below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published August 05, 2019, and has been completely updated and revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Breathe J. said:
This is a really nice article. I, personally, like unisex/gender-neutral names, especially ones that are given to boys and girls equally, such as Riley, Jordan, Charlie, etc. I like the fact that they would probably grow up to meet both girls and guys with their name.
My name is Breathe (pronounced like the verb), and I would consider my name to be unisex. In-fact, even though I’m a female, I’ve actually been mistaken for a male (solely based off my name), haha. It’s alright though, I don’t mind.
Anyways, I really enjoyed reading this article. Also, I love your name, Holland, that’s beautiful.
God bless you.