Dear Jennifer,

I’ve noticed that it’s okay for names to crossover from boys to girls, but not vice versa. Why do you think that is?

Thanks,
Tracey,

Dear Tracey,

I’m not a gender or sociology expert by any means, but I can give my observations from a historical perspective. Traits associated with females, historically, were weakness, lower intelligence, and frailty. Conversely, men were considered stronger, more intelligent, and powerful. So in surges of the women’s movement, when females gained power and demonstrated that they were just as strong and intelligent as men, it was acceptable to take on other male traits too. In fashion, for example, it’s socially acceptable for women to wear pants, but still not the norm for men to wear skirts or dresses.

The same goes for names. In fact your name was originally male and like Ashley, Whitney, and Leslie, were early crossovers to the female gender. Probably because they ended in the diminutive (ie/ey/y) and contained softer consonants. Nowadays, though, that doesn’t even matter. We see women named Michael, Lincoln, Harper, Kyle, Ryan, and many other names that are historically male. There is no stigma.

In recent years, gender fluidity has become more acceptable. But I still think it will be a while before we see a boy named Lillian or Sophia.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Jennifer Moss is the founder of BabyNames.com, Author of The Baby Names Workbook, and Producer of The Baby Names Podcast. Jennifer is widely regarded as the leading expert on popular baby name trends and the naming process, serving as the authoritative source on the subject for national and international media.

She entered the tech arena in the early 80s as a software developer and database architect, and became a pioneer in the Internet industry. In addition to operating BabyNames.com, Jennifer runs her own web development agency in the California mountains.