Icelandic Teen Wins The Right To Use Her Birth Name

Icelandic teen Blaer Bjarkardottir won the right to use her birth name in court this week. Blaer, which means “Breeze” in Icelandic, was on the restricted names list because it was considered a masculine name. Because the name was not approved , the authorities at the National Registry recorded Blaer’s name as Stulka, which translates to “Girl.”

So, let me give some background here. Iceland is very strict about its naming policies. Names must be “adaptable to the structure of the Icelandic language and spelling conventions” and also “not cause the bearer embarrassment,” states the Personal Name Register. In addition, girls must be given feminine names and boys given masculine names, no person can have more than three personal names, and  last names are based on the father’s first name and the sex of the baby. So Ólafur’s son would have the surname Ólafursson. And if Ólafur has a daughter, she would be Ólafurdottir. The majority of Icelandic surnames carry the name of the father, but occasionally the mother’s name is used in cases where the child or mother wishes to end social ties with the biological father. In Blaer’s case, she carries her mother’s name. Fascinating!

Blaer is “very happy” about the court’s decision to let her use her given name. “Finally, I’ll have the name ‘Blaer’ in my passport,” the 15-year-old said. Her mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, who claims that she never knew her daughter’s name was on the restricted list, is pleased as well. “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 commented. Congrats and enjoy your name, Blaer!