MAN’S ATTEMPT TO CHANGE HIS AGE NO LAUGHING MATTER
You may have heard the story of Emile Ratelband, the Dutch motivational speaker who made international headlines in November when he asked permission to legally change his age from 69 to 49.
He wanted to do this in part because he looks pretty good for a guy going on 70, and he seemed to genuinely believe that being 20 years younger on paper might help his romantic prospects in the real world, specifically on dating apps.
It didn’t appear to occur to him, however, that most women would probably prefer a young looking 69-year-old to a very old looking 49-year-old.
But the questionable logic behind Ratelband’s age rerecords quest is no longer relevant because news emerged this week that it has been denied.
He has plans to appeal the decision, but a Dutch court rejected the plea to shave two decades off his life, concluding in a statement: “Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly, but amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.”
In short, this was an obvious call for obvious reasons. But the court made the right call for another less obvious reason: had it granted Ratelband’s wish to change his age, the world would most likely be an even harsher place for transgender people.
If you don’t believe me, consider Ratelband’s core argument — repeated throughout the media — about why he should be allowed to change his age. He is quoted in major publications saying, “We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can't I decide my own age?”
If Bruce can legally become Caitlyn, in other words, why can’t a 69-year-old legally transform into a 49-year-old to affirm how sprightly he feels inside? For that matter, why can’t anyone become anything under the law?
Transgender rights campaigner Jane Fae tried to answer this question when she appeared on the BBC with Ratelband last month. Being transgender, she told him, is “not just an identity. It’s a medical condition that has been understood for 50 years. What you are actually doing is trying to make a comparison that is really quite tasteless.”
IN SHORT, THIS WAS AN OBVIOUS CALL FOR OBVIOUS REASONS.
The argument made by Emile Ratelband about why he should be allowed to legally change his age only helped fuel opposition to transgender rights, Emma Teitel writes.