"Transgenders can now have their gender changed on their birth certificate, and in the same spirit there should be room for an age change."
An elderly Dutchman has launched a legal battle to be recognized as 20 years younger, arguing that he should be afforded the same right as a transgender person.
Emile Ratelband, a 69-year-old entrepreneur and self-help guru, has sued his local government after it refused to officially change his age to 49. He claims that his doctors tell him he has the body of a 45-year-old.
"Transgenders can now have their gender changed on their birth certificate, and in the same spirit there should be room for an age change," he said, according to Dutch media.
He said that he feels 20 to 25 years younger than he is and and "suffers" from discrimination.
"When I'm 69, I am limited. If I'm 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car. I can take up more work," he said. "When I'm on Tinder and it say I'm 69, I don't get an answer. When I'm 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position.
Ratelband brought the case in a court in his hometown of Arnhem, a city in the eastern Dutch province of Gelderland. The case has caused controversy in the Netherlands, with the Dutch edition of Vice asking, "Is Emile Ratelband disturbed or accidentally extremely woke?"
In the United States, Ratelband's move plays into an ongoing cultural debate over the movement for transgender rights. Advocates have demanded full and easy recognition of transgender identification. They have sought to draw a clear line between gender and other characteristics, like age or race.
But critics have pushed back, suggesting that traditional gender distinctions ought to be preserved. Notably, some feminists have worried that full recognition of transgender women could undermine hard-won progress on women's rights and in some circumstances, such as in shelters or prisons, threaten women's safety.
Ageism?: Ratelband on Monday asked the court for his date of birth to be changed from March 11, 1949 to March 11, 1960 and complained of ageism. He also argued that changing his age would be good for the state since it would push back his eligibility for a pension.
The judge expressed some sympathy for Ratelband given that people can now change their gender, which would once have been unthinkable. But he flagged potential practical problems with allowing people to change their birth date, as it would mean legally deleting part of their lives.
The court is due to deliver a written ruling within a month.
Cover image: Emile Ratelband. (Roland Heitink/AFP/Getty Images)