gender-neutral first names of any ethnicity
August 31, 2009 7:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to put together a list of gender-neutral first names.

I run table-top roleplaying games at conventions, with characters provided. (For those of you who don't play pencil-and-paper roleplaying games, just think of the characters I'm talking about as synopses for improv characters.) One of the frustrations I've run across as a player is that I'm frequently the only female at the table and feel pressured to take the sole female character offered rather than having my choice. If I do play as a male, it can get tiresome having to constantly correct pronouns among people I don't know very well. Because of this, I try to make as many characters as possible neutral and let the player choose which way they want to play it. That way, if they're "cross-playing", at least it's because they want to.

I've just about run through the common neutral names: Terry, Morgan, Chris and so forth. (Pat is out, thanks to Saturday Night Live.) I've also realized that the neutral names I know are also limiting me somewhat by ethnicity. What are good names that don't immediately announce gender?
posted by Karmakaze to Society & Culture (76 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Schuyler.
posted by 8dot3 at 7:50 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Robin. (I've known three in my life and all were men.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:50 AM on August 31, 2009


Jamie, Jesse, Gayle/Gail (if said aloud, no one knows)
posted by King Bee at 7:51 AM on August 31, 2009


Summer
Alex
posted by Axle at 7:52 AM on August 31, 2009


Tracy.
posted by j at 7:53 AM on August 31, 2009


I've known probably six or seven Summers in my life (no, seriously. I don't know why.) and they were all girls. Summer to me = girl.

Aaron/Erin is the only one that comes to mind at the moment.
posted by cooker girl at 7:54 AM on August 31, 2009


Kelly
Rowan
Jules (Julian/Julianne)
Gabe (Gabriel/Gabrielle)
Cass
Lee
Kai
posted by arcticwoman at 7:57 AM on August 31, 2009


Jordan
Ricki/Ricky/Rickie
Ryan (Ryan = male to me, but I've encountered a few female Ryans)
posted by anderjen at 7:58 AM on August 31, 2009


Casey. I've always wondered if Siobhan was gender neutral because I've Siobhans from both camps but always believed it to be a girl's name.
posted by thankyoujohnnyfever at 7:58 AM on August 31, 2009


Sam (Samantha)
Jordan
Michel/Michelle
posted by Grither at 7:58 AM on August 31, 2009


Casey, Harley, Jordan, Logan, Taylor/Tyler.
posted by alynnk at 7:59 AM on August 31, 2009


Rowen/ Rowan
Taylor
Jo/ Joe/ Josie
Casey
Sam
Corin
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 8:00 AM on August 31, 2009


Sam
Brooks
Tony
Reggie
Billy
Francis/es
Joe
posted by Pollomacho at 8:00 AM on August 31, 2009


Ashley
Ronnie
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:02 AM on August 31, 2009


Just for the record, if you gave me a choice I'd pick Pat because of SNL.
posted by theichibun at 8:02 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Robbie
Allie
Lou
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 8:02 AM on August 31, 2009


Just searching for gender neutral names brings up a lot of comprehensive-looking lists, some of them even role-playing focused.
posted by bunyip at 8:03 AM on August 31, 2009


http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005230/
Michel/Michelle
posted by mkb at 8:04 AM on August 31, 2009


Doh! That last link was supposed to have the text "Michael". Also Renee and Rene, although the latter is pronounced "Raynee".
posted by mkb at 8:05 AM on August 31, 2009


Gates
Beverly

Yes I'm a fan.
posted by amtho at 8:06 AM on August 31, 2009


Shawn
Jen/Jens/Gen
Lee/Leigh
Bobby/Bobbie
Tony/Toni
posted by bluefly at 8:07 AM on August 31, 2009


Stevie
Joe/Jo
Cooper
Bret/Brett
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:14 AM on August 31, 2009


Evelyn
posted by jquinby at 8:14 AM on August 31, 2009


Leslie
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:18 AM on August 31, 2009


Sandy
Leslie
Stacy
posted by ainsley at 8:20 AM on August 31, 2009


I know a female Kyle.
posted by jschu at 8:21 AM on August 31, 2009


Initials work as well.

J.D.
A.J.
posted by collocation at 8:21 AM on August 31, 2009


Kim
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:23 AM on August 31, 2009


Elliot
posted by Zambrano at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2009


Hiromi
posted by eatyourcellphone at 8:33 AM on August 31, 2009


Sue
posted by chiefthe at 8:35 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sasha
Andrea
posted by vacapinta at 8:36 AM on August 31, 2009


*sigh* Marian/Marion.
posted by adipocere at 8:37 AM on August 31, 2009


Riley
posted by notswedish at 8:37 AM on August 31, 2009


Dana/Danna
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:38 AM on August 31, 2009


Daniel/Danielle
Cory/Cori
posted by anderjen at 8:39 AM on August 31, 2009


Casey.

Kit.

Cameron.

Carrie/Kerry (not sure what spelling is most common for guys).

Recently there have been a few famous women named Evan.

You might consider using a name that has a masculine and a feminine version and letting the player choose. For example you could put Alexander/Alexandra on the character sheet and just let them cross out the one they don't want to use.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 8:40 AM on August 31, 2009


Vivian
Sandy (Sandra or Alexander)
Mel (can be short for Melissa)
posted by dagnyscott at 8:42 AM on August 31, 2009


Apart from those previously mentioned, Kerry and Trac(e)y are both names I have known both men and women with. Alex can be an abbreviation of Alexander or Alexandra.

Interestingly, in high school, I knew two boy-girl couples named Stacey and Kelly, but one was a male Stacey and a female Kelly and the other, not.

I also know of three brothers named Stacey, Tracey and Kim, whose parents were hedging their bets for baby names all the way.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:43 AM on August 31, 2009


To check how popular a name is for each gender in the US historically, this might be helpful. For example, I learned that female Jamies outnumber males about 3:1. Plus it is just too much fun to play with!

Morgan is an especially interesting example. After a century of being essentially a male-only name, females now dominate in the under 30 camp.
posted by cjemmott at 8:44 AM on August 31, 2009


Avery
The only association I ever had with Avery was the boy in Charlotte's Web, but I recently recieved a catalog of kids clothing and they had a girl wearing a shirt saying Avery. So, it seems to have crossed the gender boundry.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:45 AM on August 31, 2009


Toby
posted by ellenaim at 8:47 AM on August 31, 2009


I've heard lots of girls and boy babies being named Jayden/Jaden or Kayden/Kaden lately. The whole -en ending seems popular these days. There's also Andi/Andy.
posted by fresh-rn at 8:48 AM on August 31, 2009


My name is becoming more strongly associated with women in North America, but I've met/heard of a fair number of guys named Carmen in my life, and I've received mail addressed to "Mr.", so it's probably still neutral enough.
posted by carmen at 8:49 AM on August 31, 2009


Yves and Eve... homophonically gender neutral.
posted by phrontist at 8:59 AM on August 31, 2009


Carroll (my father's name) - Carole (my aunt's name)
posted by Sassyfras at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2009


Shannon.
posted by squeak at 9:02 AM on August 31, 2009


I also know a family of five girls. Their names: Nikki, Dani, Joey, Chrissy (Chris), and Toni
posted by Sassyfras at 9:08 AM on August 31, 2009


Rae.
posted by piratebowling at 9:18 AM on August 31, 2009


Timi/Timmy.

Quite a long list here.
posted by crapmatic at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2009


Sean
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2009


Cory
Jackie
Lynn
Sage
Jerry
Gabby
Charlie
Nat
Marion
Aubrey
Jean (fem. as in jean grey. male as in jean claude)
Jan
posted by sapphirebbw at 9:27 AM on August 31, 2009


Tristan. My female friend spells it Tristyn, but my male friend spells it the normal way. Confusing as all get out for us all, but a lovely name. (With slightly emo allusions, as triste in spanish means sad, if you want to go that route when filling out your character sheets.)
posted by Mizu at 9:30 AM on August 31, 2009


Nicki vs Nicky
posted by mjcon at 10:01 AM on August 31, 2009


Sidney!
posted by fish tick at 10:03 AM on August 31, 2009


From last night's Mad Men: Connie.
posted by mmascolino at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2009


Aubrey
Taylor
Sydney
Jesse
Jamie
Jo
AJ
Jean
posted by firei at 10:35 AM on August 31, 2009


Laurie
posted by cleo at 10:45 AM on August 31, 2009


Dominique is a pretty common gender-neutral French name
posted by radioamy at 10:56 AM on August 31, 2009


Mika.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:28 AM on August 31, 2009


Jamie can go either way, I think.

Robin. (I've known three in my life and all were men.)

Nice to meet you, I'm Robin and a woman :) (I think this is a regional thing, though - Europeans I correspond via email or whatever with are always surprised that I am female, but Americans seem to assume I am)
posted by getawaysticks at 11:35 AM on August 31, 2009


Hayden, though that spelling is more common for girls than boys.
posted by wheat at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2009


Hayden, though that spelling is more common for girls than boys.

How else would you spell it?

Most of the used-to-be-last-name names are or were gender-neutral, though Madison, Shelley, Shirley, Joyce, Beverly, Mackenzie, Kelly, Kerry, and Evelyn are now almost always women.

I've never met a she-Hayden (the only one I know of is the movie and TV actor) but I know a couple of he-Haydens my own age (44) and older.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:56 AM on August 31, 2009


My personal favorite: Layne/Lane
posted by baxter_ilion at 1:20 PM on August 31, 2009


didn't see Adrian/Adrienne on this long list.
posted by CathyG at 1:22 PM on August 31, 2009


Jin.

By the way, many Korean names are gender neutral, especially as they're used outside Korea, where people often drop one of the syllables to make pronunciation easier. Generally speaking, if you hear a Korean name with only one syllable, it's impossible to tell if they're male or female (not always, but almost always).
posted by smorange at 4:27 PM on August 31, 2009


Roop (long form Rupinder too)
Harpreet
Gurpreet
Sukhjinder
Harjeet
posted by saucysault at 5:44 PM on August 31, 2009


Darryl

It's the name of a co-worker's wife, and another co-worker's husband.
posted by ellenaim at 6:06 PM on August 31, 2009


Hayden Christensen (male); Hayden Pannetiere (female).
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:23 PM on August 31, 2009


Akira
posted by Tixylix at 7:20 PM on August 31, 2009


Ahn is a gender neutral Vietnamese name. I work with a female Ahn and her recently retired father-in-law is also Ahn. My understanding is that the middle name denotes gender. I'm a little vague on it all so please correct me on the details if you know them.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:45 PM on August 31, 2009


By the way, many Korean names are gender neutral

Aren't many Chinese names also generally gender-neutral?
posted by desuetude at 8:09 PM on August 31, 2009


-Angel
-Tyler
-Lane/Laine/Layne
-Bernie
-Rene
posted by SisterHavana at 8:19 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lindsey
posted by zinfandel at 9:44 PM on August 31, 2009


Varsuuvius.
posted by ShawnStruck at 3:51 PM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dig out an atlas and choose some of the lesser known cities. Most place names are gender neutral (I know two each of Paris, London and Brooklyn and each name has one boy and one girl child). More exotic places have even less gender connotations.
posted by saucysault at 5:21 PM on September 1, 2009


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