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Why shouldn’t I be able to identify as a younger man?

8 November 2018

1:12 PM

8 November 2018

1:12 PM

Just when you thought identity politics couldn’t get any more confusing, along comes along Emile Ratelband. Mr Ratelband, who is described in the Guardian as a ‘motivational speaker’ and ‘positivity guru’, has appeared in a court in Arnhem in the Netherlands trying to persuade the judge to allow him to change his official birth date – from 11 March 1949 to 11 March 1969.

He complains that when he enters his birth date on Tinder he doesn’t get any replies. He says that his age has also limited his options in getting a mortgage and car insurance. He identifies as a man in his 40s – a view, he asserts, which is shared by his doctor, who tells him that he has a physical age of 45. So why can he not officially be one?

I am not entirely sure how serious Mr Ratelband is – whether he really wants to wipe away the first 20 years of his life or whether he is engaged in a rather subtle piece of satire. But if the latter, it is certainly a rather brilliant one. It is not possible to question what he is doing without also questioning the right of men to identify as women – something which the UK government wants to enshrine in law and which daring to oppose can incite a campaign to get you banned from speaking at Oxford University, as Jenni Murray has just found to her cost.

It seems you can decide your ethnicity, too. There was a rather earnest piece in the Guardian yesterday part-defending ‘transracialism’, where you identify as a different ethnic group than the one to which you were born. That follows the case of Anthony Lennon, a theatre director born to what he describes as white-Irish parents but who managed to win funds earmarked for BAME directors after identifying as a man of mixed race. So why not your age? There is no reason at all.

The government is, after all, consulting on whether to add age as a basis for hate crime, along with misogyny. If you feel like a younger person trapped in an older body then it is only right that you should be able to do something about it – and correct any official records which try to impose a certain age on you.

My only regret is that Mr Ratelband has not gone the whole hog and identified as a student. So I am going to do it myself. While others, in their prejudice, might see me as a 52 year old socially conservative bigot, from today I am identifying as a 20 year old woke student. And don’t you dare sneer, you transgenerationalphobe, or mis-age me by describing me as middle aged. To those who claim I am trying to undermine identity politics by ridiculing it, I say back off. You are hurting my feelings and making me feel unsafe. Those of us who identify as younger people have suffered enough with hateful slights such as ‘mutton dressed as lamb’, and accused of ‘Dad dancing’. If I feel a 20 year old liberal-progressive student then I am. End of story.

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