The BBC and Sky News reported last week that a Dutch “positivity trainer” launched a legal battle to lower his age a couple decades to boost his dating and job prospects.
Emile Ratelband, 69, wants to legally change his birth year from 1949 to 1969, comparing his desires to identifying as being transgender.
“We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender,” said Ratelband. “Why can’t I decide my own age?”
He explained that it is hard to buy a home or car at his age, and that he will have an easier time gaining employment at the age of 49 than at 69. He also said he was having a problem meeting women on the dating app Tinder, and he chalked it up to his age.
“When I’m on Tinder and it says I’m 69, I don’t get an answer,” explained Ratelband. “When I’m 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position.”
Well, you have to admire his confidence, if nothing else. I’m 49 — the age that Ratelband is aiming for — and the only things my face attracts are wrinkles and random middle fingers from readers. Maybe my problem’s not the fact that my face is 49, as opposed to...
But I digress.
Ratelband has been making headlines across Europe, and recently found himself on “Good Morning Britain,” alongside hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid. During that appearance, he referred to himself as “age-fluid” and, to me, the best part of his appearance was the flood of Twitter comments that poured into the show’s feed, via ladbible.com.
“It’s wrong it’s deceit,” Tweeted one viewer. “I’m 49 and I wouldn’t look at him if I was single, no matter what he calls himself he looks in his 60s, if I had looked at him thinking he was my age and then found out he was 69 I would be furious!”
Sorry. I need a second to decompress. Reading Tweets sometimes hurts my brain. Alright, let’s try another.
“My 10 year old wants to identify as a 22 year old,” wrote another Twitter commenter. “Should I take him for a pint?”
As I said, Ratelband has been making headlines across Europe because of his intentions, and it’s easy to guess that this was his inspiration all along. He was a long-time media personality and a “motivational guru,” according to BBC, and he converted to Buddhism earlier this year, while also performing as a trainer in neurolinguistic programming. He voiced the character Vladamir Trunkov in the Dutch-language adaptation of the Pixar film “Cars 2.”
Ratelband, who has also described himself as a “young god,” told Del Telegraaf, “You can change your name. You can change your gender. Why not your age? Nowhere are you so discriminated as with your age.”
Now, let’s put aside his claims about how “changing his age” would help him in the dating world, since that’s more than a little ridiculous, and bordering on creepy. It’s bad enough to lie that a 69-year-old man is 49 on a dating app. I mean, what if a 40-year-old man got his age changed so he could legally sleep with teenagers? Or maybe a 30-year-old would legally age him- or herself to collect Social Security benefits and Medicare? It’s absurd, and I’m guessing Ratelband is cashing in on the absurdity of his effort to either make a point about the identifcation of transgender people or to keep his name in the news.
He is right about age discrimination, in many ways. I’m not about to catapault it past race, gender, ethnicity or religious discrimination, but it is a very real thing. And it happens on both ends of the spectrum.
Older people are consistently thrown into the metaphorical trash heap, with younger people assuming they are past their prime, or physically or mentally unable to perform certain tasks anymore. There was once a time when we honored our elders as people who have troves of experience and knowledge, whereas we now tend to discard them in an effort to replace them with someone younger, better, faster, cheaper.
And, on the other side, young people are often ignored by their chronological superiors, or dismissed as “Millenials” who eat Tide pods, bury their faces in their phones all day and don’t have any real understanding of how the world works.
Both takes are lazy, and insulting.
Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke of judging people “by the content of their character.” While he was speaking of race in that instance, it can also be used in many other capacities, such as age.
We don’t, and shouldn’t, live in a time when we can change our age. But we can respect it without much effort.