By Tim Binnall
A Dutch motivational speaker's attempt to legally change his age so that he is twenty years younger has been rejected by a court. Emile Ratelband made headlines in early November when he argued that he should be allowed to modify his date of birth in the same way that people can alter their legal name or gender. His odd case drew chuckles from a number of quarters when it was revealed that part of his reasoning for the request was that he was hoping to improve his luck on the dating app Tinder.
To their credit, the district court in the Netherlands tasked with hearing Ratelband's case did not dismiss his case with a laugh and, instead, offered a rather reasoned response to the request. In a statement announcing their decision, they explained that they found that allowing him to change his date of birth "would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications."
Specifically, they noted that there are a number of "rights and duties" surrounding age, such as when one can vote or be compelled to attend school. These milestones, they noted, would "become meaningless" if a precedent were set by allowing Ratelband to change his date of birth, since a young person would technically be allowed to legally advance their age and, thus, bypass these restrictions.
The court also noted that legally erasing 20 years of Ratelband's life would cause two decades worth of records to essentially "vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships." In turn, were they to allow such a thing to happen and additional individuals subsequently changed their legal age, the "public registers" would be rife with factual inaccuracies which would create chaos when it comes to record keeping.