[name]How[/name] far is too far in your opinion when it comes to unisex or gender-bending names?
Personally, I think that surnames are pretty much fair game for either sex. Admittedly, there are some I prefer for girls and some for boys ([name]Hunter[/name], [name]Carter[/name], [name]Porter[/name], [name]Willis[/name] I see as more masculine; [name]Tierney[/name], [name]Delaney[/name], Hennesy, [name]Greer[/name] I see as more feminine) but that’s just personal preference.
The reason I think of them as ‘fair game’ is that use of surnames as first names has been used for hundreds of years (since the Reformation), and not just solely for boys. In 1609, for example, [name]Lord[/name] [name]Paget[/name] called his daughter [name]Essex[/name] because his father-in-law was [name]Earl[/name] of [name]Essex[/name]. The practice was confined to the upper classes until the 19th century when it filtered down to the masses.
I myself have a great x 4 grandmother, born in 1814 in a small village in [name]Norfolk[/name] ([name]England[/name]), called [name]Willoughby[/name]. I assume that this was the surname of a local celebrity as quite a few boys and girls at that time in the area were given the name. Looking through the records, one family even called their daughter [name]Willoughby[/name], and when she died in infancy, gave the name to their son. And another family who had both a son and daughter called Clopton (a family surname). So the gender-bending clearly didn’t bother them much.
Other ones from the area:
However, I admit that it’s like nails on a blackboard for me when I hear masculine names (i.e. names that started life as a masculine first name regardless of their later use as surnames) being used for girls. Examples being [name]Evan[/name], [name]Dylan[/name], [name]Finley[/name], [name]Bryn[/name], [name]Ryan[/name] (notice it’s mostly the Celtic boys that get it in the neck?) [name]Reese[/name]/[name]Rhys[/name], [name]Luca[/name], [name]Cameron[/name], [name]Shane[/name]. There are so many wonderful girls names out there, imo, why choose a boys name.
Also, despite my feelings for surnames being up for grabs for either gender, meaning is important to me, so any surname that means ‘son of’ given to a girl is a little odd to me. This includes [name]Mac[/name]/Mc names and the ‘ab’ Welsh names ([name]Bevan[/name], [name]Brice[/name]) but mostly the ones ending in -son as the meaning is much more inherent.
So, how about you? Where do you draw the line?