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Gender-Neutral, Unisex Baby Names Have Never Been More Popular

Charlie, Parker, and Harper are on the rise!
Parents love unisex names such as "Riley" and "Jordan."
d3sign via Getty Images
Parents love unisex names such as "Riley" and "Jordan."

Don’t gender a “Harper” by their onesie.

Gender-neutral and unisex baby names have never been more popular. New U.S. data compiled by Net Credit shows an 88 per cent rise in gender-neutral names from 1985 to 2015. And in 2018, “Harper” (traditionally a boy’s name) pushed “Abigail” out of the top 10 girls’ names for the first time in 17 years.

“Some of today’s young parents don’t want their children to conform to expectations of the old ‘boys climb trees and girls play with dolls’ variety, so they choose to give their children a genderless name that comes free of any stereotypical baggage,” Net Credit wrote in a news release.

“Also, a gender-neutral name can benefit a person later in life by helping to offset some of the conscious and unconscious bias that still exists in the academic and business worlds.”

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Overall, Casey, Riley and Jessie have been the most popular unisex names across the U.S. since 1910, Net Credit noted, after analyzing more than 100 years of Social Security Administration data.

And, the most popular unisex name in 2018 was Avery, according to Nameberry.

Parents are opting for more gender-neutral options

A recent study found that 63 per cent of Canadian millennial parents are raising their kids to be more gender-neutral. More and more are parents choosing clothes and toys that don’t ascribe to gender stereotypes, and some are not assigning their children genders at all. Much of the motivation comes from the volumes of research on how gender stereotypes are harmful and can have life-long impacts (for all genders).

Some companies market toward kids have followed suit by introducing clothing lines and toys that buck these stereotypes. Last week, for example, Mattel (the maker of Barbie) announced an entire line of gender-inclusive dolls.

These popular names work for every gender

If you want to pick a unisex baby name, here are some gorgeous choices:


Nameberry calls Harper “red hot” in terms of popularity. It means “harp player.” Need some inspo? How about Harper Lee, famous author of To Kill A Mockingbird?


The name Kai means “sea” in Hawaiian, which is just so lovely. It’s a multicultural name with Hawaiian, Japanese (it means “forgiveness” in Japan), Navajo (“willow tree”), Maori (“food”) and Scandinavian origins (where it means “earth”). The moniker has been rising steadily in popularity since the 1950s, according to the Bump.


Parker is the 5th-most popular unisex name in the U.S., according to Nameberry (actress Parker Posey, anyone?). The name means “park keeper.”


Ari can be a shorter version of Ariana (thanks to the famous pop star), and is also a nickname for Ariel. The Hebrew moniker means “lion of God.”

These babies don't have time for your gender assumptions.
Rawpixel via Getty Images
These babies don't have time for your gender assumptions.

We love Charlie for any gender! It’s a friendly nickname that has climbed the charts for girls, Nameberry points out. It means “free man,” and while it’s one of the most-popular unisex names, it doesn’t rank too high overall if you’re looking for a trendy-but-not-too-trendy name.


Is there a more beautiful-sounding name than River? This nature name is #17 on the gender-neutral list, and just sounds so tranquil. Let Joni Mitchell’s hauntingly beautiful song “River” be your super-chill inspiration.


Elliot is an anglicization of “Elijah” or “Elias” and means “Jehovah is god,” according to Nameberry. More importantly, it’s a gorgeous name that works for any gender!

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