Icelandic teenager denied the right to use her own name

BlaerSometimes as an American I get some pretty shocking reminders of the freedoms I often take for granted on a daily basis. The story of Icelandic teenager Blaer Bjarkardottir and her current fight is one of those instances.

Blaer is 15 and currently suing the Icelandic state for the right to use the name bestowed upon her by her mother. So is her name something way out there like Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop, Jermajesty, or Moxie Crimefighter? Nope. Then I know what it is. Her name is some sort of Icelandic obscenity! No? Well what does Blaer mean in Icelandic?

It means “light breeze.” Wait… What!?!

It turns out that Iceland has a registry of names that are pre-approved by the government from which a parent must pick and choose. If they dare to name their child anything different, they have to go through an approval process via a special committee.

First names hold greater weight in relatively tiny Iceland as everyone is listed by their first name in the phone book. Surnames are simply a parent’s given name. Heck, they even call the president by his first name.

The panel denied the name Blaer because, the committee stated, it takes a masculine article. Ironically, the female character in a novel by Iceland’s Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness is named Blaer.

Blaer’s mom, who learned of her daughter’s frowned-upon name after her baptism (because of this, Blaer has simply been identified as “girl” officially), said:

“So many strange names have been allowed, which makes this even more frustrating because Blaer is a perfectly Icelandic name. 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.”

She added that her daughter loves her own name.

If you think this law only exists to protect children from parents with bad taste, you would be wrong. Even adults who wish to have their name changed have to be “approved.”

Nations like Germany and Denmark also have similar rules.

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  • Bebe

    Did I miss something in this article? Why is this brought up at age 15? Shouldn’t it be resolved by now? What has she been called all this time if she cannot use her real name?

    • Kelly

      It says in the article that she has been identified as “girl”

    • sanoga

      I would imagine it’s an issue now because she is reaching an age where having a legal identity separate from her parents is more important. In the US, 15-18 is when we get a drivers license, register to vote, etc. So I’d imagine at 15, she is experiencing difficulty doing the equivalent “coming of age” activities if she is known legally as “girl.”

  • Kaja

    Here in Germany its the same, names need to be approved. There are much less people waking around with stupid names for that reason, though.

    • German

      its to save children from crazy names. and thats GOOD. Freedom is good, and nobody on this planet has more freedom than we in europe! But, sometimes people need some limits, even in europe πŸ˜‰

  • m

    “Sometimes as an American I get some pretty shocking reminders of the freedoms I often take for granted on a daily basis.” — the most arrogant comment written on this site. when will americans learn that they’re not as ‘free’ as they’d like to believe?

    • Voltaire

      haha, yeah thats true, they wish that they are free. they are only free to kill themself with their guncrazyness. brainwashed nation πŸ˜‰

  • awoman

    You know, we have TONS of stupid laws they don’t have, ones that take away far greater freedoms than this for a far greater number of people. Have you ever read the Icelandic constitution? If I was to weigh my options based on freedom, I’d be in Iceland.

  • Anon

    Yet in America someone can legally change their name to Metta World Peace and it’s not an issue.

    • My Name is… what?

      yeah and this is awesome right? LoL The GOP is giving americans freedoms, who are unnessesery. the real freedom they do not give you.

  • Emily

    We’re so lucky to be able to name a child Blunt or Hashtag….