​10-Year-Old's Passport Request Denied Because of Her Name

passport with stampsAn Icelandic couple named Tristan and Kristin Cardew having an incredibly difficult time trying to get a passport for their 10-year-old daughter -- all because of her name.

Believe it or not, Iceland's laws state that unless both parents are foreign, they have to submit their name choice to the National Registry for approval within six months of birth. Government-approved names have to fulfill requirements such as "Icelandic grammatical endings," "linguistic structure of Iceland," and "Icelandic orthography." And the Cardews' daughter, Harriet, doesn't fit with these laws or appear on the approved list of 1,853 approved female names. (For the record, there are just 1,712 boys names that are fine by Iceland officials.)

Given that we live in a country where Kim Kardashian and Kanye West can name their kid North, and Subaru is making baby name lists, the dilemma the Cardews are facing is an extremely difficult one for us Americans to wrap our heads around.


But it's situations like this that should remind us not to take our freedom for granted. We're so lucky to live in a country where we can name our kids whatever we want. That we don't have to go through a grueling process of submitting our name choice to a committee or having to adhere to a set list. I would imagine that as a result, our kids are afforded an even greater sense of self. Even if they have a common name, like John or Elizabeth, it was likely chosen for personal reasons -- not because the government would sign off on it!

More from The Stir: 14 Banned Baby Names That Kind of Crack Us Up

That said, we could clearly stand to reframe how we see baby naming: as a privilege to be taken seriously. A case for skipping some of those more disturbingly unconventional choices (like Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Hashtag) perhaps?!

In the meantime, the Cardews have appealed Iceland's decision to deny Harriet an updated passport. "They have deprived our daughter of freedom of movement," the girl's mother told visir.is. It's absurd. But it should sure make American moms all sorts of grateful that this is one bureaucratic hoop we definitely don't have to jump through!

How would you feel about the government telling you to stick to a list of approved baby names?

Image via jaaronfarr/Flickr

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