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If you can change gender, why not your age?

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In a bizarre case of alleged discrimination, Dutch television personality Emile Ratelband, has lost his legal bid to change his age. Having argued that at age 69 he struggled to find work and love, the courts have now ruled that it would be wrong to lower his age to 49.

Mr Ratelband – a self-styled ‘positivity guru’ – claimed he did not feel 69 and argued that his official age was not reflective of his emotional state, causing him to struggle to find work and love. His argument appeared consistent with other ‘forms of personal transformation’, such as the right to change gender: "We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can't I decide my own age?" he said.

However, the court rejected his request, saying there was no legal basis to change his age and that allowing him to change it would “have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications”.

Mr Ratelband now plans to appeal.

The right to reflect how one feels

The heart of the issue is that Mr Ratelband wants ‘reality’ to reflect the way he feels. He has said numerous times that he does not ‘feel’ like a pensioner, and that reducing his age by 20 years would lead to getting work and attracting more women on dating sites and apps.  He argued that “when you behave like a young man, your body takes the same shape”.

His feelings have further been supported by doctors. Ahead of the hearing, he spoke of how his doctors had told him he had the body of a 45-year-old. But there is a difference between allegedly having the body of a 45-year-old (or being in good shape) and actually being 45. Whether you look 45 or not, your age is reflective of when you were born. The courts agree.

Yet, the argument mirrors the same arguments of people with gender confusion, who claim their biological sex does not accurately reflect the way they feel. Many doctors are also willing to support these arguments. In fact, it has recently come to light that there are doctors and gender advisers who are rushing gender confused youths into making decisions about changing gender. Transgenderism now seems to be so embedded into medical culture that doctors are now losing their jobs for saying that gender is biological.

The Dutch court’s reasoning for rejecting Mr Ratelband’s request should also apply to any request to change gender. The court ruled that the day someone is born is enough to define their age; but one could equally argue that the sex one was born with should also be enough to define one’s gender.

Changing legal documents – “undesirable legal and societal implications”

In a press statement, the court said: “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 records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.”

The court did not elaborate on what these legal and societal implications might be. However, it is true that “amending his date of birth” would need to be carried out on all legal documents, not only his birth certificate, but also his passport, ID card, marriage and divorce certificates, the birth certificates of his children, etc., essentially erasing 20 years of records.

It would also be an outright lie to amend these records: Mr Ratelband argued that the date on his birth certificate was simply mistaken, even though he was born on that day (11 March 1949). No doubt his own mother could attest to that. To state anything other than that day would be lying.

It is also correct to state that the implications would be “societal”. Aside from the obvious difficulties that changing all these documents would cause, it would also affect both medical professionals dealing with him in future and likely have a lasting emotional effect on those around him. Changing his birth certificate to reflect his ‘felt’ age would affect his family – particularly those who remember the first 20 years of his life. Records may well be able to be erased, but memories will remain. Changing his own children’s birth certificates would also affect them; changing his marriage and divorce certificates would affect his ex-wife. The effects of changing his age are not limited to himself, but also affect a wider community around him.

But this is also true of changing gender. Dr Carys Moseley explains that gender self-identification forces people to lie and be deceived, and so it is a “societal” issue: “It is a matter of public concern given that not being allowed to tell the truth about a person’s sex fundamentally violates the integrity of professionals in all relevant occupations, and lowers standards in public life. Members of the medical profession would find it very much more difficult to do their work dealing with patients properly.”

The implications and effects of changing one’s sex are not limited to the person in question, but also affect those around them. It is particularly problematic when the person’s own children are thrown into the equation and the person who was named as their father starts identifying as a woman, as has happened in numerous cases.

Carys Moseley further explained: “In our contemporary society which is ravaged by the lies of transgender ideology, it is becoming increasingly controversial to say that children can only be born of a woman. Yet there are no ‘pregnant men’ in God’s eyes. Likewise a father of children can never be considered their ‘mother’ just because he chooses to undergo gender reassignment.”

The implications of changing both age and gender are not only personal. The effects that they have on the wider community are certainly worth studying and reflecting on.

“Rights and obligations are attached to age”

In a written ruling on Monday, the Dutch court said: “Rights and obligations are also attached to age … for example, the right to vote, the right to marry, the opportunity to drink alcohol and to drive a car.”

The worry is that by allowing anyone to change their age to what they identify as, it will open the door to young people ‘identifying’ as older. So, for example, there would be nothing to stop a 13-year-old boy as identifying as a 23-year-old man, claiming his driving license, the right to vote, the right to drink, etc. There is no question as to how dangerous this would be, not only for the child, but also to those around him.

There are also rights and obligations attached to gender that are there to protect us. Many of them relate to our right to privacy and our right to be protected from danger. For example, men and women are, largely, obliged to use different bathrooms, different changing rooms, etc. These distinctions are there for people’s privacy and protection.

Being allowed to identify as the opposite gender to one’s sex is dangerous. We have already seen women put at risk by men identifying as female, such as in New Hall women’s prison in Wakefield, and the safeguarding issues have been raised within the Girl Guides, after their policies allowed boys identifying as female to shower and share accommodation with biological girls. This is dangerous, and although these are extreme examples, they will no doubt happen more if we make it easier for people to change their gender.

“Age is part of person’s identity”

The court ruled that it would be wrong to allow Mr Ratelband to change his age because his age is part of his identity. This is true; when, where, how, to whom, and a host of other elements will all affect who we are and how we identify as ourselves. Age is not changeable, it is part of who we are, whether we are happy to admit how old we are or not.

This is also true of gender. Gender also forms a part of our identity. No good comes from separating between sex and gender; they were created to align. God made us as male and female, and so our identity is either male or female. Gender and sex are not changeable either; they form a part of who we are, whether we are comfortable with our gender or not.

Although it is right that the court has rejected Mr Ratelband’s request, it is disappointing that he has been criticised for comparing his bid to one from the transgender community. Many don’t realise that changing one’s gender also has “a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications”.


Further info

Read more about the background of transgenderism and why it damages both the individuals concerned and the wider society in our new book, The New Normal. You can also watch personal accounts of the damaging effects of transgenderism, and listen to talks from our New Normal conference in the New Normal Resource Hub.