Blær Bjarkardóttir, the teenage girl who is registered as stúlka (‘girl’) in the National Registry and is suing the state to have her name approved, is far from being the only Icelander who is officially nameless.
Archive photo: Páll Kjartansson/Iceland Review.
According to mbl.is, there are around 100 girls older than one year old listed as stúlka in the National Registry and a similar number of boys listed as drengur, or ‘boy.’
There are various reasons for children not being registered by their given names. In many cases they parents have simply delayed naming them or not yet submitted information on their names to the National Registry.
Many Icelandic children who live abroad are registered as stúlka or drengur in Iceland, even though they are old enough to have started school.
In cases when the children live in Iceland and have started school, they may be known as stúlka or drengur to the authorities because the names chosen by their parents have not been approved by the Naming Committee, as with Blær.
Drengur is actually also an approved male name in Iceland and four individuals carry that name, according to the National Registry.
When a child is born in Iceland it is listed in the National Registry and given a kennitala, social security number. Midwives send reports about the birth to the National Registry.
Icelandic citizens living abroad can request to have their children registered in Iceland. Birth certificates are issued by the authorities in the country where the child is born. If the child does not have a name by the time it is issued, the National Registry requires a new certificate including the baby’s name to update its database.
Blær’s legal struggle has garnered widespread attention in the foreign media and her mother, Björk Eiðsdóttir, told visir.is that they spent all Thursday in interviews with media outlets such as CNN and NBC.
Their case is currently in court and a verdict is expected next month. If they lose it in the District Court, they are determined to appeal to the Supreme Court.
While Blær, which is a masculine word for ‘light breeze,’ is an accepted man’s name, only one woman is legally called Blær in Iceland.
According to visir.is, in her case, Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Halldór Laxness, who named one of his heroines Blær, convinced the Naming Committee to authorize it.
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