“Girl” wants to use her real name
There are a few countries that have official lists of approved names. When children are born parents must give them one of the names on this list or the unapproved names aren’t official. Germany and Denmark are countries with such a practice.
Iceland is another country with a Personal Names Register. It contains 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that fit Icelandic grammar. Parents must select from these lists or apply to a special committee that has the power to accept or reject the submitted name.
A recent case has brought attention to this practice. Blaer is a 15-year-old girl in Reykjavik, the capitol of Icelend. Her mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, named her at birth thinking Blaer was on the official list. “Blaer” means “light breeze” in Icelandic. When she discovered it wasn’t, she applied to the committee for approval. It was denied due to certain technicalities and because it was considered too masculine a name for a girl. Names like Cara, Carolina and Christa have been denied because the letter “c” is not part of Iceland’s 32-letter alphabet. Blaer has had to officially go by “Girl” or “Stulka” since birth.
Blaer has taken the matter to court challenging the system for the first time in Icelandic history. She hopes to change the law and be allowed to officially use Blaer for her passport, banking and all other purposes. A decision from the committee is expected by the end of January, 2013. Blaer plans to pursue this to the country’s Supreme Court if the committee rejects her request. Update: In 2013, Blaer won her case and was granted permission to use her given name.
Is this hard to believe in today’s world? We all take our names for granted and accept what our parents have given us. It’s rare to hear of a case where one has to fight for a certain name. As Blaer’s mother commented recently “It seems like a basic human right to be able to name your child what you want, especially if it doesn’t harm your child in any way.”
For a similar story with a different take check out this post.