Gender-Bending Names: Readers Weigh In

Filed under: Baby Names

In a recent column, the mother of a boy named Azure was dismayed to find that name listed under the girls' column in name dictionaries. The issue clearly struck a nerve. Readers flooded the Name Lady in-box with their own experiences in the gender-bending name world.

Some letters were positive, like the mom of a male Kiley who wrote, "Who cares if it's a boy or girl name, if you like it what does it matter? No regrets here!"

But most -- parents and children alike -- seemed frustrated with life in the androgynous lane. Among parents, the most common complaint was discovering that the male name they chose was turning female. Bearers of androgynous names struggled in childhood but came to appreciate their names as adults. Others remained unhappy, or turned to nicknames or even legal name changes for escape.

Here's a small sampling.

"I always hated having what is traditionally a boy's name [Dale]...I don't like cutesy or nutty names, but after being assigned to boy's PE classes and auto shop (of course I didn't see the advantage of this until later) during my younger days, I would rather have been named Sunbeam."

"My name is Sherrill (male). It caused me grief through my entire life. Now that I'm old enough, however, I'm well known as 'Hawk'....Yes, I am a Hawk, not a Sherrill."

"My daughter's name is Houston. She's been mistaken for a male on a number of occasions. She was actually named after a man. She hated it at first but likes it now."

"What these foolish parents don't seem to realize is that it's the children who have the burden of explaining their own names for the rest of their lives. I still remember all of the teasing I got because I have a boy's name. I am 64 and still cringe when I have to tell how, no, I am not a boy and, yes, Billie really is my 'real' name."

"I wanted my son [Keegan] to sound manly, now dumb people who don't care what their child's name means are ruining it for me and my son. Now he will have to defend his manhood."

"My husband at the time said I could name him Beauregard, Hugh, or Ashley. I went for Ashe. I feel really bad that he has to deal with people thinking he's a girl, but when I step back and relax, he wears it so well. He's fine boned, handsome, polite, artistically gifted and never has a problem with the ladies. Can I get off the guilt now?"

Have you dealt with an androgynous name? Share your experiences! And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.