Is age fluid?

Alison, November 8, 2018

Dutch citizen Emile Ratelband doesn’t feel the age that is reflected on his birth certificate – 69. He is in good physical and mental condition and feels like he is 40 or 45 years old. He has asked a Dutch court to change his birth certificate from March 11, 1949 to March 11, 1969 to reflect how he feels about his body and his mind. The court will issue its decision in the next couple of weeks.

Mr. Ratelband does not see his request as being any different from a request to change his name or the gender he was assigned at birth. He is not bothered that this comparison might offend transgendered people, maintaining that it comes down to free will, and noting that both his name and gender can be readily changed. He believes that in addition to the age on his birth certificate being reflected to how he feels, it would help his dating prospects and land him more projects at work.

In 2012, Ontario’s Human Rights Code was amended to include “gender identity” and “gender expression” as protected grounds under its employment, housing, contracts, and services sections. There is considerable literature recognizing that gender non-confirming individuals, including gender fluid individuals, have been historically been disadvantaged. Mr. Ratelband’s legal challenge raises questions about whether age is fluid, like gender, and whether it can be changed as readily and as easily, as changing one’s name.

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