More Parents Are Opting for Gender-Neutral Baby Names

·4 min read
Photo credit: Group4 Studio - Getty Images
Photo credit: Group4 Studio - Getty Images

The Social Security Administration (SSA) keeps data about baby names going back to the late-1800s, which is helpful to parents trying to figure out what to name their kids. Parents can run to the site to find the most popular baby names, and even information about whether or not the names are getting trendier or less trendy.

But if there's one limitation to the SSA information, it's this: All names are indexed by whether they're given to baby boys or baby girls, according to their birth certificates. But what if you're looking for unisex or gender-neutral names?

Right now, the SSA doesn't have a separate list of gender-neutral names. This is a shame, because interest in unisex names is definitely on the rise. According to NetCredit, which looked back at 100 years of baby names, there was an 88% increase in the use of unisex names between 1985 and 2015.

Similarly, Quartz found an overall decrease in gendered American names since 1920. And technically, any name could really be used for any baby — it seems like, for every Noah Centineo, there's a Noah Cyrus, for example — so it's a the "gender neutral" or "unisex" distinction is one that's getting hard to pin down.

While the SSA doesn't keep a list handy of names used equally by all genders, there are places where you can find data scientists who crunched the numbers and found names that are unlikely to be associated with just one gender.

These Names Are Split Equally Between Boys and Girls

Nameberry, a baby-naming site that tracks user interest in baby names, took a look at the most recent Social Security Administration data and found names that are used (roughly) the same number of times for boys and girls. According to the site, these were the 10 most popular (listed alphabetically):

  1. Bellamy

  2. Charlie

  3. Dakota

  4. Denver

  5. Emerson

  6. Finley

  7. Justice

  8. River

  9. Skyler

  10. Tatum

Of those, Charlie is the one that's both in the top 250 names for boys and girls and is the most evenly split.

These Gender-Neutral Baby Names Are on the Rise

When BabyCenter looked at its own users, it also found a strong interest in gender-neutral names. It saw an increase in lookups for these unisex monikers: Ari, River, Cameron, Sam, Tatum, Corey, Frankie and Emery. And while those are names that have had history of being both boy and girl names, BabyCenter has also seen a recent trend of names that flipped from the blue column to the pink one: Stevie, Max, Drew, Tyler and Ryan, once thought of as boy names only, are now gaining ground with the girls.

These Names Have Become Less Gendered Over Time

Like the names that flipped from blue to pink, Quartz has analyzed a few names that have become more and more gender-neutral over time: Alexis, Blake, Casey, Dylan, Marion, Parker and Spencer. They may have started off being associated with either boys or girls, but over time, the other team has managed to even the score. (Interestingly, the names Ashton and Harper have become more gendered over time.) Other popular unisex names Quartz has observed include Oakley, Landry, Armani, Azariah, Royal, Lennon, Hayden, Emerson, Rowan, Baylor and Phoenix.

These Are the Most Unisex Names — and the Most Flip-Flopped Names — In American History

Data scientist Nathan Yau analyzed SSA charts going back decades, and found names that kept the unisex 50-50 split for years, even decades. He also notes the times that a moment in pop-culture history — such as Disney using the name Ariel for the protagonist in The Little Mermaid — tipped the scales one way or another. According to Yau, these are the most typically unisex names:

  1. Jessie

  2. Marion

  3. Jackie

  4. Alva

  5. Ollie

  6. Jodie

  7. Cleo

  8. Kerry

  9. Frankie

  10. Guadalupe

  11. Carey

  12. Tommie

  13. Angel

  14. Hollis

  15. Sammie

  16. Jamie

  17. Kris

  18. Robbie

  19. Tracy

  20. Merrill

  21. Noel

  22. Rene

  23. Johnnie

  24. Ariel

  25. Jan

Those are names that have been used pretty evenly for both boys and girls. Yau also notes the names that have switched the most, ping-ponging back and forth between being used by mostly girls, then mostly boys, and vice-versa. The most toggled names are:

  1. Casey

  2. Jackie

  3. Kerry

  4. Jodie

  5. Finley

  6. Skylar

  7. Justice

  8. Rene

  9. Darian

  10. Frankie

  11. Oakley

  12. Robbie

  13. Remy

  14. Milan

  15. Jaylin

  16. Devan

  17. Armani

  18. Charlie

  19. Stevie

  20. Channing

  21. Gerry

  22. Monroe

  23. Kirby

  24. Azariah

  25. Santana

The Bump Keeps Its Own List of Unisex Names

Bump users tend to have their fingers on the pulse, so look for these Bump-approved unisex names to get even more popular in the future.

  1. Kai

  2. Hunter

  3. Elliot

  4. Skylar

  5. Jude

  6. Jalen

  7. Logan

  8. Asa

  9. Evan

  10. Aubrey

More Options for Gender-Neutral Names

If you didn't find your unisex name among those listed above, here are additional gender-neutral names.

  1. Avery

  2. Briar

  3. Brooklyn

  4. Campbell

  5. Dallas

  6. Gray

  7. Greer

  8. Haven

  9. Indigo

  10. Jordan

  11. Lennox

  12. Morgan

  13. Onyx

  14. Peyton

  15. Quinn

  16. Reese

  17. Riley

  18. Robin

  19. Rory

  20. Salem

  21. Sawyer

  22. Shae

  23. Shiloh

  24. Story

  25. Sutton

  26. Zion

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