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California Official Explains Why Elon Musk Won't Legally Be Allowed To Name His Baby X Æ A-12

California Official Explains Why Elon Musk Won't Legally Be Allowed To Name His Baby X Æ A-12
Kevin Tachman/Getty Images for Vogue

A lot has been made of Elon Musk and singer Grimes newborn.

The Canadian singer revealed they plan to not impose gender norms on their child and the South African billionaire revealed the child's proposed name to much fanfare online.

But now there's a twist they didn't anticipate.

California officials pumped the brakes on little X Æ A-12 getting a California birth certificate. But not for the reason some would hope.

The state imposes no rules on what sort of names parents can choose. People can be as wild and unfettered in their choices as they want with one condition.

The California Department of Public Health's vital records division's handbook specifies only "the 26 alphabetical characters of the English language" and "appropriate punctuation"—hyphens, apostrophes, periods, commas—are allowed on vital records like birth certificates.

A CDPH spokesperson verified the bad news to Huffington Post.

"No, a name like 'X Æ A-12' would not be allowed."

According to their guidelines, only X A- could be used for their child's name.

Æ and 12 are a no go.

While the CDPH didn't elaborate on the reasons for their restrictions, speculation is it has less to do with judging parents' choices and more to do with computer software.

UC Davis School of Law professor Carlton F.W. Larson who published a 2011 paper on parental naming rights told Huffington Post:

"Typically when you have a baby, you fill out a form at the hospital and it's entered into a computer system. My guess is if they tried to enter this name, the computer would just reject it."
"Likely he'd be told you can't have this as a name on a birth certificate. You'd have to enter something else. I think the X and A are OK, but the 12 and the Æ symbol wouldn't be allowed."

Musk and Grimes are not the first to run afoul of California's baby naming rules. Hispanic Californians have cited the lack of diacritical marks common in some Spanish language names in the vital records software.

While the state legislature addressed the issue several times, a law to upgrade the state's computer system has never been passed.

Professor Larson said Musk and Grimes could sue the state, but are unlikely to prevail.

"Musk doesn't present a very sympathetic case at all. If he were to bring a challenge, I think he would lose, and he probably should lose."
"Nobody should have to go through life with a name like that. And that's very different than if someone says, 'I want diacritical marks, which are consistent with a name well-known in my culture'."

Larson added:

"Whatever name is on the birth certificate, they could probably use this name informally in the same way people give nicknames to their kid."
"It wouldn't be a name on the kid's birth certificate or passport, but assuming it even has a pronunciation, they could use it in their house if they wanted to."

Looking for a baby name? The book The Complete Book of Baby Names is available here.

Grimes album Miss Anthropocene is available here.