In July 2008, a New Zealand court stepped in to change the name of 9-year-old "Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii" because her name "makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap." This case was unique because the name was changed from the unusual to the more conventional. Usually, it's the other way around.
There are no reported cases of a United States court taking it upon itself to change the name of a child because of potential embarrassment, but there have been some pretty interesting name change requests filed in courts across the country—some accepted and others denied. State laws regarding name changes differ. Generally, you're free to change your name so long as it's not for a fraudulent purpose and it does not recall the name of a famous person or use a swear word.
So how crazy is too crazy when it comes to name changes? Here are five of the most unique requests:
1. The Dot Com Craze
From the early to mid-2000s, three animal rights' activists took drastic measures to further their causes. Karin Robertson became GoVeg.com, Christopher Garnett became KentuckyFriedCruelty.com, and Brandi Valladolid became RinglingBeatsAnimals.com—all with little trouble from the courts.
All three of the former People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) employees have apparently reclaimed their birth names since then.
2. Darren Lloyd Bean to Darren QX Bean!
In 2006, the California Court of Appeal approved this name change, including exclamation point, agreeing with Bean!'s argument that the punctuation mark would aid in pronunciation similar to accent marks in other names. "Many of his close friends greet him as 'Bean!,'" the court noted. "When saying his name, friends raise the pitch and the volume of their voices above their usual spoken tone."
Bean! originally petitioned to change his name to Darren QX [pronounced 'Lloyd'] Bean!—brackets and quotation marks included—but the court talked him out of the brackets and pronunciation instructions.
3. Marvin Richardson to Pro-Life
Organic strawberry farmer Marvin Richardson was denied the use of his legal middle name (Pro-Life) on the 2006 ballot for governor of Idaho because Idaho state law prohibits the use of slogans on ballots. Richardson responded by legally changing his full name to Pro-Life. Now Idaho officials have no choice but to list him as such on future ballots.
4. Variable to F*** Censorship!
In 2008, the New Mexico Court of Appeals denied a request by a man named Variable to change his name to F*** Censorship! because the proposed name was "obscene, offensive and would not comport with common decency."
As you may have guessed, Variable's name wasn't always Variable; in 2004, he had legally changed it to Variable from Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon.
5. Steve Kreuscher to In God We Trust
That's first name "In God," last name "We Trust." The school bus driver and amateur artist's petition was granted in June of 2008 by a Lake County, Illinois circuit judge.
In God We Trust says his name represents the help that God gave him during difficult times and that he looks forward to signing future artwork with his new moniker.