Why gender-neutral, unisex names are so popular in 2020

It's a trend that shows no signs of slowing.

Looking for a unique name for your baby? Unisex baby names never go out of style.

Many have had second lives, becoming popular gender-neutral names after once being top boy names or top girl names — sometimes having been both in different years.

Take the name Charlie, which has been a common name for boys since 1900, according to the Social Security Administration’s baby name popularity search. In 2016, Nameberry.com’s baby name split graph shows baby boys and girls named Charlie fairly equally, with girls at a slightly higher number.

Sometimes the change is drastic. Avery, a gender-neutral baby name, was once a boy name. According to Nameberry, 100 percent of babies named Avery in 1880 were boys, but by 2012, girls were 81 percent of babies named Avery.

Other names that were gender-specific that have since become gender-neutral include James, Lincoln, Jordan, Royal, Addison, Rowan, Emery, Lyric, Cameron, Morgan, Peyton and Sawyer, said Jennifer Moss, founder and CEO of BabyNames.com, the site that posted a striking Black Lives Matter tribute on its homepage recently.

Many popular unisex baby names sound the same but have different spellings depending upon whether the baby is a girl or a boy. So a girl Averi is one letter off from a boy Avery; ditto Remi, Remy and Rylie, Riley.

Others are inspired by the world — and people — around us. “The surname trend has been really popular with names like Madison, Harper, Harrison, and Blake,” said Moss. “Place names are also gender-neutral like Dallas, Paris and Aspen, as well as noun names like Atlas, Blue, and Raven.”

Why have unisex baby names gotten so trendy in recent years? Baby name experts believe new parents want to let kids be themselves. Increasingly, society is becoming more comfortable with gender itself as a fluid concept.

“Some parents choose gender-neutral names because they want to transcend gender stereotypes for their child,” Pamela Redmond, cofounder of Nameberry explained. “Some choose them because they want unique names that are contemporary and break with old conventions. And some parents want both."

“Psychologically, it has to do with society’s views on gender," said Moss. "Fifty years ago, it was more of a stigma or shameful for a boy to have feminine traits or for a girl to have masculine traits."

Though things have changed for the better, double standards and sexism could explain why names like Beverly, Hilary, Lauren, Meredith and Leslie have stayed girl names after decades of being boy names.

Here's are 10 popular unisex baby names, culled from BabyNames and Nameberry's research:

  1. Elliot

  2. Royal

  3. Justice

  4. River

  5. Skyler

  6. Jordan

  7. Dakota

  8. Reese

  9. Angel

  10. Francis