News from Europe

“I’m about 40 or 45, accept it!” A 69-year-old man cites transgender arguments to change his legal age

A 69-year-old Dutch man is fighting to have his birth certificate legally changed to state that he is twenty years younger on account of him feeling like he is really 49. If you can change your gender on will, why couldn’t t you change your legal age as well? The story highlights the next turn in the ongoing debate over the “fluidity” of immutable physical characteristics such as biological sex. 

Arnhem, Netherlands,  

Emile Ratelband is a 69-year-old life coach from Arnhem, a town southeast of Amsterdam. He has gone to court in hopes of getting a court to change his birth certificate to say he was born on March 11, 1969 instead of his actual date of birth, March 11, 1949.

“Nowadays, in Europe and in the United States, we are free people,” Ratelband told the Washington Post in an interview published Thursday. “We can make our own decisions if we want to change our name, or if we want to change our gender. So I want to change my age. My feeling about my body and about my mind is that I’m about 40 or 45.”

He argues that he has the physical and mental fitness of a much younger man, and a legal declaration to that effect would benefit him both professionally and romantically.

While sympathetic, the judge in the case isn’t entirely convinced, the Daily Mail reports. He noted that changing Ratelband’s date of birth would effectively disregard the portion of his life between 1949 and 1969.

“For whom did your parents care in those years?” he asked. “Who was that little boy back then?”

Whatever Ratelband’s intentions may be, that a court is seriously considering his case represents a turning point in the tension between “identity” and reality. Despite the fact that sex is biologically rooted and immutable, refusal to recognize men as “women” and vice-versa is intensely debated in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

In fact, until this week the notion of “age fluidity” was generally reserved as an example conservatives invoked to criticize the logic of gender ideology. Mostly in an ironical manner. Now we will have to see what comes next.



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