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Gender-neutral character names for your books

As a non-binary name nerd, I love searching for names, so I’ve pulled together some resources and lists of gender-neutral character names to help writers.

Whether you’re writing an LGBTQ+ character or trying something different, like using an ambiguous name in a crime novel, I hope you’ll find a gender-neutral name you like below.

Gender-neutral names can be used for any kind of character, and recent popularity in using more gender-neutral names can easily be reflected in fiction.

Can any name be gender-neutral?

Yes, any name can be gender-neutral!

For something to be gender-neutral, it just needs to not be associated with a specific gender. This can be your personal opinion, but at large it requires a group of people to consider something gender-neutral. Fiction can help with this.

For inclusivity, let’s say that the binary in names is between feminine and masculine names.

Feminine names are typically ascribed to girls, women, and other femme people. Masculine names are typically ascribed to boys, men, and other masc people.

Many gender-neutral names started out as masculine names or surnames, like Addison. Addison means ‘son of Adam’, and it was used as a surname as far back as 1538. Yet it’s now a popular feminine name in the United States, so much so that up to 90% of people named Addison are categorised as girls.

While a large amount of people consider Addison to be a feminine name, it continues to be used as a masculine name as well. There’s no rule stating that Addison isn’t a gender-neutral name because of this divide.

This just shows that any name can be gender-neutral, whether you personally consider it to be gender-neutral or society changes the association a name has. I hope that in future years, we’ll be able to consider any name to be gender-neutral.

Other gender-neutral names that started as masculine names include:

  • Ashley
  • Blair
  • Cassidy
  • Darcy
  • Hadley
  • Hilary
  • Kennedy
  • Lauren
  • Madison
  • Meredith
  • Quinn
  • Reese
  • Shannon
  • Stacy

Names for genderfluid characters

Genderfluid characters feature the most in queer fiction, but if you’re looking to add a genderfluid character to your novel, don’t let their name be an extra struggle.

Many genderfluid people prefer to find one name that feels comfortable for them all of the time, typically picking a gender-neutral name for themselves. Others swap between nicknames, especially if they’re still searching for that perfect name.

Depending on the character, they may want to go with a gender-neutral name, or maybe they prefer to have different nicknames depending on how they’re feeling about their gender expression.

For instance, a character might go by Charlie when they feel more masculine, but they’re comfortable with being known as Lottie most of the time. You could even convey this in the text by having them wear a necklace or bracelet with their preferred name on. This is a simple way to convey gender euphoria and dysphoria, even for a supporting character.

With this in mind, I’ve gone through some of the most popular names and given suggestions for masculine, feminine, and neutral nicknames. Remember, any name can feel gender-neutral to a person.

  • Amelia – Amy, Lee, Mel
  • Benjamin – Minnie, Ben, Benjy
  • Charlotte – Lottie, Charlie, Char
  • Evelyn – Eve, Ev, Lyn
  • Isabella – Bella, Bell, Issy
  • Jackson – Jackie, Jack, Jax
  • Oliver – Olivia, Liv, Oli
  • Theodore – Dora, Ted, Theo
  • Victoria – Tori, Victor, Vic
  • William – Willa, Liam, Will

From 10 ‘full’ names, we already have a potential 30 nicknames and alternatives to suit characters. You can find even more by searching up nicknames for names you like.

I’ve also compiled a list of 78 unisex character names, with three names for every letter of the alphabet.

Unisex names that can be shortened to create more names

Unisex is another word you can search when looking for character names, as ‘unisex names’ essentially means ‘names that can suit anyone regardless of their sex’, so of course they can work for any gender identity.

Be aware that most people who use the term ‘unisex name’ rarely include intersex people, usually because they’re unaware of the existence of intersex people.

Now more of an outdated term, ‘unisex’ is equivalent to ‘gender-neutral’, but for many people it’s quicker to search for unisex names than gender-neutral names.

Popular unisex names include Taylor, Riley, Avery, Rowan, Ryan, and Jordan.

To add more gender neutrality to a character, shortening these names can add more ambiguity and gender euphoria for trans and non-binary characters.

Some of my favourites include:

  • Alexis > Alex, Lex
  • Artemis > Art, Artie
  • Ashton > Ash
  • Cameron > Cam
  • Casey > Cas
  • Dakota > Kota
  • Elliott > El
  • Finlay > Fin
  • Halston > Hal
  • Harley > Har, Ley
  • Lennox > Len
  • Miller > Mills
  • Monroe > Roe
  • Morgan > Mor
  • Murphy > Murph, Mur
  • Peyton > Pey
  • Ramsey > Ram
  • Robin > Rob
  • Rowan > Ro
  • Rylan > Ry
  • Skyler > Sky, Ky
  • Spencer > Spence
  • Sterling > Ster

Resources to find gender-neutral character names

It’s hard finding good resources for gender-neutral names, especially if you have an aversion to searching ‘unisex’. With that in mind, here are my top resources of websites I trust and use myself:

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