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.