Says recognition of ‘trans-ageism’ would prevent ‘severe discrimination’
A recent article published in The Journal of Medical Ethics by a Finnish bioethicist made a moral case for the legal change of a person’s age to correspond with that person’s “experienced age.”
The piece, by Joona Räsänen of the University of Oslo in Norway, titled “A Moral Case for Legal Age Change,” concludes that there are three scenarios when a change to one’s legal age should be allowed: When “the person 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, discrimination due to age, he would otherwise face.”
Räsänen differentiates between “chronological” age, or how long the person has actually lived; “biological age,” or the state of one’s body; and “emotional” age, the age as which one identifies.
“Legal age is a cause of severe discrimination for some people whose biological and emotional age do not match their chronological age,” he argues.
In an interview with The College Fix, Räsänen said: “Age is (for some people at least) an important part of their identity. People can identify themselves as older or younger than they actually (chronologically) are…I do not deny people’s own experiences.”
When asked by The Fix how biological age might be distinguished from chronological age, Räsänen was unable to clarify. “I am not a biologist or medical doctor so I cannot give a definite answer here. I believe this is something biologists and medical doctors should consider and decide together with philosophers and bioethicists.”
“Psychologists and psychiatrists should be consulted when a person wants to change her age, such as they are consulted when a person wants to change her sex. How exactly this should be done? I am not sure … but for now, I would say that similar psychological tests should be done when (someone) wants to change her sex,” he said.
When asked, Räsänen also explained how he thinks certain potential abuses, such as a pedophile’s changing his legal age to get around statutory rape laws, could be avoided.
“Children cannot consent to sex, and that explains why sex with a child is wrong. 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 8-year-old either.”
“If a paedophile changes his age into eight to molest children, it is still unethical for him to have sex with someone who chronologically is eight (because it is unethical for two eight-year-olds to have sex with each other).”
He said that another way to avoid such abuses is “to propose upper and lower limits for age change.”
“For example, perhaps age change should be allowed only when the new age of a person is going to be something between 18-60,” he said. “Maybe there also should be an age limit for the age change, so that a child could not change her age.”
Räsänen acknowledged that his argument was a moral one and that “there are some practical problems … on how to implement the idea of age change into practice.”
“I believe that these problems can be solved. I believe that legal age change could be, in some cases, beneficial for the age change candidate and, for example, changing age could offer an additional way to fight against discrimination of the elderly. Perhaps it does not work eventually, but maybe it is worth to try.”
The Fix reached out to multiple LGBT experts and campus centers at U.S. universities, inquiring as to whether trans-ageism as outlined by Räsänen is considered a comparable phenomenon to transgenderism, in which individuals born as men and women declare themselves women and men, respectively. None of the centers or experts responded.
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