A 15-year-old Icelandic girl named Blær Bjarkardottir is trying to force Iceland to legally recognize her first name.
Blær’s mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, said the priest who baptized her daughter mistakenly allowed the name, even though it’s not on Iceland’s list of government-approved female names.
So Bjork appealed to Iceland’s Personal Names Committee to have the name Blær approved for her daughter.
The name was rejected on the grounds that the word Blær, which means “light breeze” in Icelandic, takes a masculine article.
For the last 15 years, Blær’s legal name has been Stúlka, which simply means “girl.”
Bjork and Blær are now battling the Ministry of the Interior in district court, trying to get the rejection overturned. This is the first time a Committee decision has been challenged in court.
A verdict is expected around January 25.
“So many strange names have been allowed, which makes this even more frustrating because Blær is a perfectly Icelandic name,” Eidsdottir said. “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.”
Apparently there is an Icelandic woman (b. 1973) legally named Blær, though it took Nobel Prize-winning author Halldór Laxness to personally convince the Committee to approve it.
Laxness had used the name for a female character in his 1957 novel The Fish Can Sing.
Sources: Icelandic girl fights for right to her own name, Icelandic Girl First for Right to Use Name, Many Icelanders Nameless in National Registry
Update, 2022: Several weeks after I posted this, it was reported that Blær Bjarkardottir had indeed won the legal right to use her given name. The court ruled that “the name could be used by both males and females” — rejecting the government’s argument that the name should not be permitted for females in order to “protect the Icelandic language.”
Source: Icelandic girl wins legal right to use her given name (CBC)
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Source: Icelandic teen wins right to keep her name (Feb. 1)