The most popular baby names in 2017 were the usual ones. For baby girls, the names were Emma, Olivia, Ava, Sophia, Isabella, Mia, Charlotte, Abigail, and Emily. For boys, it was Noah, Liam, William, Mason, James, Benjamin, Jacob, Michael, Elijah, and Ethan. But there's another naming trend that has a troubling motivation.
Names like Royal, Charlie or Salem, Skyler, Justice or Oakley—which are all unisex names—are on the rise for parents who want to allow their child to be gender fluid without having to change their name later, reported the Associated Press.
“We’re definitely seeing more conversation today around the distinction of a truly gender-neutral name,” Linda Murray, global editor-in-chief of BabyCenter.com, told AP. “This generation is truly interested in gender-neutral names.”
While the gender neutral names aren't present in the top ten, the Social Security Administration keeps track of names of all the names that are rising into the top 1000. As more millennial have children, gender neutral or crossover names continue to rise,
In the past, people have predominantly named their children for meaningful reasons. For some, it was passing on family names. For others, it was religiously significant names, such as Catholics naming their children after saints. Now, an increasing number of people are concerned that their child's name will allow them to experiment.
“We chose a gender-neutral name, Riley, for my daughter,” said Lori Kinkler, a psychologist in San Antonio, Texas. “We knew her sex, but gender is fluid and yet to be determined. Of all the difficulties faced by those who live beyond, or across, the binary, we didn’t want name-changing to be one of them. ... I like that she feels she has options and knows she’ll be accepted by us no matter what.” Riley is 3.
AP also spoke to a mother from the San Francisco Bay area, who shared why she gave her daughters, Teagan and Sigrid, what she considered gender-neutral names.
Kirsten Hammann, 45, said “Sigrid is technically a girl’s name but because it’s so uncommon in the U.S. it reads as gender neutral to most people,” she said. “The gender neutrality was not something my husband and I discussed explicitly and I would say it was more in my mind knowing firsthand the hurdles women face across so many areas of life. Whether we like it or not, names that skew a little masculine, or less feminine, are perceived as stronger, and I wanted that for my girls.”
The second of her part explanation is concerning. It seems to indicate that she considers sounding feminine—and possibly being feminine—to be a disadvantage.
While people in the United States are free to name their child whatever they like, in some countries, namely Portugal, Denmark, and Iceland, unisex names are forbidden by law. In Germany, local registrars get to decide if a name would negatively impact a child's quality of life.
Another parent from a stereotypically liberal area also chose a gender-neutral name to allow for fluidity.
“We named our baby Avery Morgann. The intention was to give them more room to define themselves as they get older. Also, name changes are expensive and frustrating,” said Portland, Oregon, parent C.J. Alicandro, 31, a social worker.
“We wanted to set up Avery with an opportunity to not be limited as much as possible by a name and be able to choose an identity as much as possible, given the confines that are forced upon them,” said Alicandro, who strives for gender neutrality in every part of her Child's life.
Here are the names that had a strong gender split. Charlie came in first with half of all baby's with that name being girls and half being boys. The rest broke down as followed.
Finley at 58 girls-42 percent boys, Skyler (54-46), Justice (52-48), Royal (42-58), Lennon (50-41), Oakley (52-48), Armani (46-54), Azariah (55-45) and Landry (53-47).
For another mother, Rebecca Connolly, 29, with a unisex name, it was a less deliberate choice. She and her husband, a guitar player, chose to name their son Lennon Wallace after John Lennon.
“I wouldn’t say I intentionally gave my son a unisex name,” Connolly said. “As a child I felt bad for all the Taylor, Jordan and Jamies I knew whose names didn’t identify their sex. By the time I was having kids, 50 percent of the little girls I met were named Riley, Avery, Logan."
For her daughter, Connolly didn't choose a gender-neutral name. Her little girl is Lucille Beatrice. She's also pregnant with a second boy, who she says will have a masculine name.
What do you think about naming trends? Why did you choose your children's names? In other news, a Christian pastor is facing life in prison.