An article by a Finnish bioethicist in The Journal of Medical Ethics made the argument that some people should be able to legally change their age to correspond with their “experienced age.”
The scholar — Joona Räsänen — is from the University of Oslo in Norway. According to Räsänen’s article, “A Moral Case for Legal Age Change,” there are three scenarios in which a person should be allowed to legally change his or her age: When the person in question “genuinely feels his age differs significantly from his chronological age,” when “the person’s biological age is recognized to be significantly different from his chronological age,” and when “age change would likely prevent, stop, or reduce ageism” that “he would otherwise face.”
Räsänen claims that there is a difference between a person’s “chronological age” (the number of years that person has lived), his “biological age” (based on the condition of the person’s body), and his “emotional age,” which is however he chooses to identify.
“Legal age is a cause of severe discrimination for some people whose biological and emotional age do not match their chronological age,” he writes.
“People can identify themselves as older or younger than they actually are. . . . I do not deny people’s own experiences,” Räsänen said in an interview with The College Fix.
Räsänen also told The Fix that he believes potential problems — such as a pedophile wanting to change his or her age so he or she could have sex with minors — could be easily avoided.
“Children cannot consent to sex, and that explains why sex with a child is wrong,” he said. “But if an eight-year-old cannot consent to have sex with a 18-year-old or with a 80-year-old, it seems that she cannot consent to have sex with another eight-year-old, either.”
Räsänen said that proposing “upper and lower limits for age change” could also prevent this problem.
“For example, perhaps age change should be allowed only when the new age of a person is going to be something between 18 and 60,” he said. “Maybe there also should be an age limit for the age change, so that a child could not change her age.”
Even aside from the pedophile issue, the idea that a person could legally change his or her age just because he or she “feels” like a different one is absolutely stupid. I mean, I’m 30, and I sure as hell don’t feel like it. In fact, the amount of candy that I eat, children that I have (zero), and Alf that I watch (a ton) could easily make the case that I am, at most, eleven. What’s more, I can certainly say that I’ve had people on Twitter make jokes about me being an old, disgusting spinster ever since I have turned 30, so I’d also meet the whole “reducing ageism” qualification as well. Should I be able to just change my age to 22 so that I can feel better about the fact that I still live alone with a cat?
No, I absolutely shouldn’t, because, do you know what? I’d still be f***ing 30! The fact that I “changed” my age on government documentation wouldn’t actually change anything at all. I would have still been on this planet for 30 years. The eggs in my ovaries would still start to scramble at the exact same time that they would have otherwise. The only difference would be that I was lying to myself, and lying to yourself is never a healthy way to live your life.
Age, after all, is not “just” a number — it’s a useful number. Although different people certainly do mature at different rates, it still provides a pretty good indication of where one at least roughly stands biologically. It signals when a person is likely ready for things such as military service, driving or alcohol, and lets doctors know when they should start looking out for certain medical issues. Refusing to be real about what your age is might be fun, and it might make you feel better about the fact that you still play Nintendo 64 (what . . . just me?), but it could actually be very harmful to your health and well-being, especially if you’re refusing to be real about it on official documents.