In the quixotic battle against old age, some people use skin care and spin class.
Not Emile Ratelband, a 69-year-old who feels like he’s in his 40s. The Dutch pensioner is asking a court in his hometown of Arnhem, southeast of Amsterdam, to change his birth certificate so that it says he took his first breath on March 11, 1969, rather than on March 11, 1949. The judges heard his case on Monday and promised they would render a verdict in the next several weeks.
Ratelband sees his request as no different from a petition to change his name or the gender he was assigned at birth – and isn’t bothered that this comparison might offend transgender people, whose medical needs have been recognized by the American Medical Association. It comes down to free will, he maintains.
“Because nowadays, in Europe and in the United States, we are free people,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We can make our own decisions if we want to change our name, or if we want to change our gender. So I want to change my age. My feeling about my body and about my mind is that I’m about 40 or 45.”
Being in his 40s would make his life much better, he explained. It would help him land more projects at work. The trainer and life coach – and baker and political provocateur in past lives – said potential clients ask him if he can “speak the language of young people” when he tells them his age. He assures them that he’s well-versed in the ways of the youth. But they’re skeptical, telling him that their other options are “young people in the gleam of their lives.” He assures them that he is more experienced, wiser and more knowledgeable, but he is beginning to think those attributes may not be enough.
He wants to be young again, and he has the physical fitness to match, Ratelband said.
His bones have grown approximately half of a nano millimeter over the last two years, he said. He has low blood pressure. His joints are working well. His eyesight is clear. His mental health is in top shape, he reported. “Well, everything, I guess,” he said. “I get it all checked every two years.”
This is what he told officials at the town hall, where he first went to ask for the change.
“Are you crazy?” they inquired, rejecting his request. It wasn’t his first brush with the officials there. Many years ago, they refused to let him name his twins, Rolls and Royce, after the carmaker. He continues to call them by these titles, but made their legal names France and Minou.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Isaac Stanley-Becker