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Do I Have a Boy's Name?

My name is Tracy. I have been told by many that it is the male version of the name -- that the female version is supposed to be either Treacy or Tracey. I am a woman. Can you clear this up for me? - Tracy

Treacy? Oh dear.

You've fallen victim to America's love-hate relationship with androgynous names. Parents of girls flock to unisex surnames and even traditional male names, but then a lot of them edge away. "We thought Aidan would be cool for a girl," they'll say, "but we spelled it Aidynn to make it more feminine." If you wanted something feminine, one might ask, why did you choose a boy's name to begin with?

Now these timid, semi-androgynous names are rebounding on your cross-gender classic.

Let's take a tour through your name's past. Tracy is a surname that came to be considered an elegant first name. At one time, it was also used as a nickname for Theresa. That kept the name's male/female ratio pretty even until the 1900s, when swanky surnames came into vogue for boys (think Sidney and Murray). Then a few decades later the name entered a new style jetstream alongside the likes of Stacy and Kerry. Just as with those names, girls eventually grabbed the Tracy lead. By the late 1960s more than ten thousand American girls were being named Tracy every year, and a couple of thousand boys for good measure.

That's Tracy, T-R-A-C-Y. Some parents did try to make the name more girlish by spelling it Traci or Tracie, but they were the minority. As for the other spellings people have tried to force on you, Tracey is an alternate spelling for both males and females and Treacy is another surname hardly used as a given name at all.

So Tracy, your spelling is the standard one, for women and men alike. Bear it proudly. Extra e's, i's and y's don't make anybody more of woman.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

November 8, 2010 4:14 PM
By I'm Leslie (not verified)

Leslie was originally a male name, I think. The -ley looks more feminine, but I was given the male spelling. The only Leslie's I know are females.

November 9, 2010 11:02 AM
By lothelena (not verified)

Leslie is the spelling of the name for men and Lesley for women in the UK. In the US it seems to be reversed as you say.

November 9, 2010 12:59 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

In my opinion, Tracy is the only proper way to spell it. I don't like cutesy or creative spellings of names. I have never known any males with the name Tracy (except for Tracy Morgan, the celebrity and I don't even know him!). I think Tracy is a girl's name.

November 9, 2010 1:04 PM
By Leslie (not verified)

I'm also a Leslie! There was a time period a couple of years ago in which I seriously considered legally changing the spelling of my name to Lesley. I thought it was much more feminine.
What's ironic is that my boyfriend of over a year made a VERY good point the first time I asked him which spelling he liked better; he said that Lesley looked similar to the boy's name Wesley, and thinks Leslie with the -ie is actually much more feminine! I guess it's mainly that association with the male name Wesley, which I had never thought of before! :)

November 9, 2010 1:44 PM
By Darian (not verified)

I've got a boy's name. I've been told that the *correct* female spelling would be Darien, like Vivien. But as my name is pretty unusual anyway it hasn't caused me any trouble. In fact, most males with my name tend to be spelled Darrian or Darrean or something like that.

November 9, 2010 1:57 PM
By Evie (not verified)

For an example of a very elegant female Tracy, you should check out the movie The Philadelphia Story, in which the main character, Tracy Samantha Lord, is played by Katharine Hepburn.

November 9, 2010 2:04 PM
By Sarah (not verified)

My sister-in-law is a Tracy. To me, Tracy is a girls name and Tracey is a boy's name. I agree that extra a's, e's, i's, and y's do not a girl's name make :)

November 9, 2010 2:20 PM
By Double trouble (not verified)

I knew a girl growing up named Tracy Tracy. First name: Tracy. Last name: Tracy.

Tracy Tracy!!

November 9, 2010 4:31 PM
By I'm Leslie (not verified)

Now that you mention it, -ley does look more masculine as in Wesley. I've seen Leslie spelled for girls with this spelling: Lesli and Leslee. There's also Lezlie, which I guess is all right if the name is to be pronounced with the 'z' sound.
No matter how I say my own name (with 's' sound), it seems that in a room of only 3 or 4 people someone ALWAYS says it with the 'z' sound. That drives me crazy!

November 9, 2010 5:04 PM
By tracey smith (not verified)

I resemble this remark. Born in 1968 and named Tracey. My elementary class had three girls named Tracey. All three spelled differently. One Traci, one Tracy and me. Now the confusion was in our last names too. I and y were B's and I was an A. Then in middle school even more were added to the point that in one class the teacher thought we were joking when we sat in alphabetical order. Tracey A, Tracy B, Traci B, Traci C, and finally someone not named Tracey only to later on have another Tracy. This time an H. LOL! I love my name no matter how it's spelled. It's mine. I feel a connection even when I meet a boy named Tracy, Tracey, Traci, Tracie, Tracee, ... I could go on and on.

November 9, 2010 9:31 PM
By lesli (not verified)

I am also as you can see a Lesli, though my parents chose to spell it without the extra e at the end. I am always correcting it, especially on formal documents. I hated my name in school due to the similarities to the word Lesibian, and before I even understood what the word meant. I've always understood Leslie to be a "place name" since according to what I've read means something like "from the gray fort/fortress". In high school I spelled it Lesleigh and toyed with Leslee. But now, I use the spelling my parents gave me and am very proud to be loosely named after my grandfather who was named Lester. I mean after all there are no feminine forms of the name Lester that I know of.

November 9, 2010 11:37 PM
By Lulu (not verified)

Tracy's a lovely name. I have an aunt Tracy as well as a grandma Tracy. The spelling is just fine and it's perfect for a female.

November 10, 2010 7:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I know a female Lesley who lives in the UK and who tells me that in the UK, Leslie is the male spelling and Lesley is the female spelling.

November 10, 2010 7:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I know a female Lesley who lives in the UK and who tells me that in the UK, Leslie is the male spelling and Lesley is the female spelling.

November 10, 2010 8:42 PM
By Juli (not verified)

The ironic thing is that the surname Leslie (in whatever spelling) has two possible origins: the place in Scotland, or an Old English _feminine_ name (Lecelina, Letselina).

November 13, 2010 8:17 PM
By Gene (not verified)

I am a female and my name is Gene, not Jean as it should have been spelled. This has been a huge problem my entire life; The government insisted that I register for Selective Service when I turned 18; I was assigned to a boy's dorm when I arrived on campus for my freshman year of college; I was listed as the father, not the mother on my oldest child's birth certificate. I was very careful to give my four children names that are clearly intended for their gender so that Zachary, Hannah, Noah and Olivia would never suffer through what I have.

November 13, 2010 10:37 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I am a 34 yr old femle named TONI. It is not short for any other name just Toni. I was named after my Dad Anthony who went by Tony. Growing up I was known as little Toni and some family members till this day still call me that. As a child I so much wanted my name to be Jennifer, Michelle, Mellissa anything that was common. There was no female Toni's growing up and I so much wanted to have a popular name. When I became an adult i started to like my name more and more and thankful I didn't have such a common name. When I had my sons I wanted to do the same for them by givig them a strong name but not a trendy name. I really liked matthew, bailey and so on but I didnt want my kid to have to be 1 of 6 in there class either.

November 14, 2010 6:44 AM
By Just Chris (not verified)

YOU are a very smart woman. I am a guy and 55 years old. My first name is CHRIS. Not Christopher, not Christian just Chris. It has been a problem all my life. Everybody thinks I'm a girl (I was one of the first on the mailing list for the National Organization of Women), when I send out a resume it was dismissed (he can't even be bothered using his whole real name") and I know I lost jobs because of it , and I cant tell you how many times I have written Chris and been told "no, we need your whole real name". Chris is on my birth certificate, baptismal certificate, driving license, credit cards and passport, and almost every time it was a fight (or an issue). Like you I was assigned to the girls dorm in college (the other guys alternated between being jelous and making fun, it was something I didnt need on the first day of school). And when my first son was born I named him CHRISTOPHER and absolutely insisted that everyone call him CHRISTOPHER (not "Chrissy", not "Chris", not "little Chris" but CHRISTOPHER) to this day he is Christopher.
There should be no question in naming a child what that child's sex is.

November 15, 2010 3:04 AM
By Shawn (not verified)

My name is Shawn. I'm a woman. I am name after another woman named Sean(who would've been born roughly 1950). Yet my entire life has been spent explaining my name to people. Ironically I ended up marrying a male Sean(we get called Big Sean and Little Shawn). I also live in Phoenix, where we have a newscaster named Sean(pronounced Seen"). I have researched my name. Sean=Irish, Sion & Sian=Welsh, Jean&Jeanne&Shonne=French, Shaun&Shaughn=British, Shawn=American, John=Biblical, Johan&Schon=German. I learned to accept it a long time ago, however I would never encourage anyone to use a cross-sex name! I went to school with kids named Baird and Ladd, yet I was the one who got teased for my name. Kids will find a reason to tease you no matter what, but don't give them a perfect target.

December 18, 2010 9:35 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

this may be a little late but for the twin girls name to match Nathaniel James, how about Nathalie Jane?

June 30, 2011 10:01 PM
By Tracie (not verified)

I am "Tracie," and I'm happy with it as is. My parents weren't trying to be cute with it; my mom just preferred this spelling to the others and how it looked when it was written. Having to correct other people's misspellings of it has been a minor issue but not truly a hassle. My mom and dad thought if I found the corrections annoying, I could use Maureen, my middle name. I never have gone by Maureen, though I love that name, too. I was born in 1981, and in my childhood I didn't encounter other girls named Tracie (of any spelling) and I was always the only person I knew with the name. My sister's name is Jennifer, so in her life she knows about seven Jennifers, and I know seven more Jennifers myself! My parents tried to choose a name for her, too, that wouldn't be super common. They had no idea every other parent named their daughter Jennifer that year (1984)! Jennifer is a bit envious I've never had the experience of being one of seven (or more) in a class in school, and she was one of three Jennifers with the same letter as a last name one year!

August 3, 2015 11:59 AM
By Karin (not verified)

I am a woman, and I've been told by a few that I have a male name. My name is a variant of Karen or Karyn, which all my life I've associated with female names. I did a Google search of my name and found Kieran, which is a common Celtic male name, so that is probably how some people got confused. They names seem to be alike, just a difference in how they are pronounced.

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