Age is just a number.
Emile Ratelband, 69, definitely did not come up with that mantra.
But he argued the point in a Netherlands court, suggesting temporal existence was as fluid as gender. Ratelband feels 49 years old, he has said, and wanted to be legally considered as such to blunt age discrimination.
The move would also help him score more Tinder dates, he told The Washington Post in November.
Ratelband’s public lobbying for a legal review of the place of age in modern society drew sharp rebukes from many who considered it an insult to transgender people, whose medical needs have been recognized by the American Medical Association.
Others suggested he is a troll and longtime provocateur, vying for attention and Twitter followers to boost his lifestyle coaching business, which he said was losing revenue as clients seek youthful inspiration.
“That is B.S.,” Ratelband said Monday in response to those accusations, telling The Post he is a serious businessman and author who defended comparing his struggle to that of transgender people — a community whose social rejection has led to increased risk of suicide and homelessness among teenagers.
It is not much different from someone “black” observing someone who is “yellow” claiming discrimination and realizing they have also been slighted, Ratelband said.
He claims he has experienced age discrimination when renting cars abroad and said his good faculties should overcome the age listed on official documents. Ratelband is retired, he said, but doubts he could find a job in the Netherlands if he wanted one because of his age.
So he should be left to legally determine what age he feels, he said, calling into question the very concept of time.
“What is time? Time is just a figure,” he said. “I say it’s not fixed.”
An Arnhem court ruled in favor of the fourth dimension.
“The court recognized that there was a trend in society for people to feel fit and healthy for longer, but did not regard that as a valid argument for amending a person’s date of birth,” the court said Monday, denying his request to change his birth date from March 11, 1949, to March 11, 1969.
Ratelband failed to substantiate claims of age discrimination, the court ruled, and suggested there are alternative means to pursue justice for potential discrimination.
He is free to act whatever age he feels, the court ruled.
“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 priority must be to ensure that the public registers contain accurate factual information."
When he first broached the legality of changing his age, he said the judges “laughed like little girls.”
But after he delivered an inspirational speech about how modern society had freed itself from the false gods of money, government and religion — “nowadays, we are free people,” he reportedly told them — they became more receptive, in his telling.
Ratelband has advanced potential solutions in his legal defeat.
Perhaps documents could carry a birth age and a perceived age — but that would be a self-evaluation rather than a medical opinion, although he did not address how exactly that number would be determined.
But Ratelband did not appear ready to wade into policy minutiae just yet.
“We are free men to do whatever we like,” he said, pointing to the concept of governments and money and society as just that — concepts bent to the will of humanity.
Ratelband is also free, he said, to appeal the court’s ruling. He said he will do it within the three-month time limit in accordance with Dutch law.
He will obey that window, he said.
Time is a constant. For now, anyway.