Iceland teen allowed to use name not on official registry (+video)
An Iceland teen denied her name because it wasn't on official registries of approved names won her court case. She can now use her name – Blaer, meaning "light breeze" – instead of "Stukla," which means "girl" and was imposed on her by government agencies.
Reykjavik, Iceland — A 15-year-old Icelandic girl has been granted the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother, despite the opposition of authorities and Iceland's strict law on names.
Reykjavik District Court ruled Thursday that the name "Blaer" can be used. It means "light breeze."
The decision overturns an earlier rejection by Icelandic authorities who declared it was not a proper feminine name. Until now, Blaer Bjarkardottir had been identified simply as "Girl" in communications with officials.
"I'm very happy," she said after the ruling. "I'm glad this is over. Now I expect I'll have to get new identity papers. Finally I'll have the name Blaer in my passport."
Like a handful of other countries, including Germany and Denmark, Iceland has official rules about what a baby can be named. Names are supposed to fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules — choices like Carolina and Christa are not allowed because the letter "c'' is not part of Iceland's alphabet.
Blaer's mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, had fought for the right for the name to be recognized. The court ruling means that other girls will be also allowed to use the name in Iceland.
In an interview earlier this year, Eidsdottir said she did not know the name "Blaer" was not on the list of accepted female names when she gave it to her daughter. The name was rejected because the panel viewed it as a masculine name that was inappropriate for a girl.
"I had no idea that the name wasn't on the list, the famous list of names that you can choose from," said Bjork Eidsdottir, adding she knew a Blaer whose name was accepted in 1973. This time, the panel turned it down on the grounds that the word Blaer takes a masculine article, despite the fact that it was used for a female character in a novel by Iceland's revered Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness.
Given names are even more significant in tiny Iceland that in many other countries: Everyone is listed in the phone book by their first names. Surnames are based on a parent's given name. Even the president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, is addressed simply as Olafur.
Blaer is identified as "Stulka" — or "girl" — on all her official documents, which has led to years of frustration as she has had to explain the whole story at the bank, renewing her passport and dealing with the country's bureaucracy.
Blaer had told the court she was very happy with her name and only had problems with it when she was dealing with state authorities who rejected it.
The court did not grant her any damages. The government has not indicated whether it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.