Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
[flagged] A 69-year-old man asks to be declared 49, claiming age is as fluid as gender (washingtonpost.com)
35 points by bookofjoe 41 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments

It sounds like he didn’t mean it seriously, but I’m willing to discuss the concept seriously.

Some of us think gender shouldn’t necessarily be tied to the body one was born in or currently inhabits (that is, gender != sex).

Is there a concept of age that is separate from the number of years the body has physically been in existence?

Don’t we sometimes say of an adult “he has the emotional development of a 5 year old”?

What would happen if, as with gender, we bifurcated the terms for physical vs mental age?

The dutch man talks about age discrimination on Tinder; I imagine that only in recent times has record keeping gotten so omnipresent, and that people have always had more margin to play with their age +/- a few years.

And yet we cannot lie about it much for long. As if there's a hidden clock somewhere, related to rotating around the sun but barely not. Perhaps those in the future will develop a biological clock, but then we go back to the old question of whether this dutch man is wanted less because of age. Is age just the number on his government ID card?

Why can one fudge age, but only a little?

In Argentina everyone has a national ID, that in particular is used to vote. Until ~1950 only the men had it, and they got it during the conscription.

In ~1950 the government gave all the women also an ID to vote, and the age was self reported because the official records were a mess (most of the records were only the baptism date keep by the church).

Many of the old women subtracted 5 or 10 years from their real age :).

Strictly speaking, we have that already — I forget the English term but a court can declare you to be childlike and appoint a guardian to take care of adult affairs for you.

But that's not what you meant, right? You meant: what benefits would we get from having more complex "age" machinery in every database? Well, the complexity can be an advantage in itself. Much employment for highly paid database specialists, and many (small?) opportunities for blackhat mischief by leveraging people's assumptions that one "age" is the other "age".

"What would happen if, as with gender, we bifurcated the terms for physical vs mental age?"

The size of the electorate would shrink sharply.

Whether deliberately or not, this claim belittles the civil rights struggle of the transgender. All humans age, but only a minority have a gender identity that does not match their assigned sex.

I only hope that the discussion of this silly claim results in more people gaining greater understanding of transgender issues.

I think in this situation age is like sex and the concept the subject calls age is really like mindset or mental age, which would be more like gender.

Although many states will amend drivers licenses so that sex is recorded as the subject’s gender [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender_rights_in_the_Unit...

This guy is well known in the Netherlands. He became popular as positive energy guru with his catchphrase Tjsakka, somewhere at the end of the previous millennium. And is known as a entertainer and media attention seeker by almost all Dutchmen. Nobody here would be surprised by this and think it is one of his new jokes.

Well, death is not that fluid though...

I don’t think he is dead. A dead man would probably not care about his age.

He was dead previously but now he is transdead after petitioning to have his death certificate changed.

Pretty sure death happens to people of all ages.

Statistically more to people around his age and greater.

Worldwide average life expectancy at birth is ~70 years.

Sure, why not... But you also have to come out of retirement and give up any SSI because you're no longer old enough to collect, and your senior discount -- kiss that goodbye...

Next up: teenagers trying to change their age to past the legal drinking age / age of consent.

It is interesting that some things are fluid, like gender, something science has proven beyond a doubt, but age and race are not. I would love to just call myself 27 for the rest of my life.

He's obviously trolling, but he does have a point. If gender is fluid why is it so important for trans people to look like women, or men? Is it a necessity? Then why adopt distinct male or female features, genitalia which do not work as intended? So, is it just cosmetic? Then why are they modifying their bodies? Just to feel well and free? Same goes for this guy. He's feeling like he's much younger than he actually is. It's both a necessity and a cosmetic change in his birth certificate. Hell, let's kick off some studies to verify whether more people feel younger than they are. Sadly, I don't know any trans person to ask them how they feel and why they feel that way, in person.

Please don't feel that the best way to figure out what a trans person feels like is to find one and ask them. Why do you think they want to educate a stranger?

Instead, read one of the many, many articles on this topic. Written by trans people or trans-friendly people who specifically do want to educate strangers.

Here's a "Q&A as a trans advocate’s nuanced perspective on Trans 101 questions." - http://www.transadvocate.com/a-trans-advocates-perspective-o...

Here's a recent blog post on trans advocacy which gives "definitions that are in common use among people that seriously study gender" - https://freethoughtblogs.com/pervertjustice/2018/10/13/andy-...

There are blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, and more.

I'd agree with the others, the best way to learn is to ask. But you can't just start pestering people, though simply telling them during a conversation that you have questions and are curious has always been the way to go for me. And as long as you're not judgemental and keep an open mind, its informative AND interesting!

Like one trans woman I used to play video games with told me she wanted breasts, vocal cord surgery, BUT didn't want to change her other genitals. In her words "[my penis] is one of the few parts of my body I'm comfortable with"! Before I talked to her, i always assumed trans wanted to obtain ALL changes associated with their desired gender!

Talking is the best way, believe me. Writing things up is easy. But talking is sooo much more revealing and effective, that I started to prefer talking over reading hours and hours of the same explanation. Being a trans person is much more of an individual thing, so to avoid generalization I'd like to ask a trans person, in person, what they feel like. I don't want to be educated, I'd like to know and to understand.

The trans people of the world are not your personal tutors!

If you don't even care enough to read the basics, why should they think that you care enough to really understand them?

And there are writings from untold thousands of trans people, with different views, so it's not like reading will only give you generalizations. You'll get thousands of specifics.


Kudos for making the effort to understand. At the same time, I think we can empathize that part of the minority experience is forever having to explain, and not being able to simply exist.

From the Miles Davis album A Tribute to Jack Johnson:

> "I'm Jack Johnson, heavyweight champion of the world. I'm black. They never let me forget it. I'm black all right. I'll never let them forget it."

I know that in order to talk to someone you need to learn the language.

Otherwise you're the stereotype of an English speaker going to a foreign country and insisting that people can understand you if you JUST TALK LOUDER.

You don't even seem to be doing the equivalent of picking up a tourist book containing a few phrases to say.

I suspect that gender feels very different to different people. Some people feel strongly connected to one gender, some to another, some don't feel strongly connected to one at all. Trans people feel strongly connected to a different gender than the one which they are physically.

All sorts of interesting research has been done: https://www.the-scientist.com/features/are-the-brains-of-tra...

What do you mean "connected"? They can still live and feel like a man or woman, without their respective physical features, right? Just be a man, with female features (or vice versa) and surround yourself with people who support and don't judge you upon the facts. Why can't they accept their bodies? I, personally, I can perfectly accept other people with their respective identities, I don't really care what the people think they are. But, as soon they let cut themselves up and are heavily medicated, I begin to sense that they have trouble accepting themselves as who they are. I've had trouble accepting my own sexuality and features of my body, so I know exactly what I'm talking about.

I'm not trans, but I am acquainted with many trans people including an awesome past colleague. So take this for what it's worth from another person doing their best to understand gender dysphoria.

Imagine that you were to wake up and find yourself in the body of the opposite gender, yet with your sense of attraction and your personal identity unchanged. Wouldn't many of your mannerisms seem awkward to you and to others? Would others be willing to accept your assertion of a gender that was at odds with your appearance? Would you?

> But, as soon they let cut themselves up and are heavily medicated, I begin to sense that they have trouble accepting themselves as who they are.

It doesn't get talked about much, but many of the treatments are painful, inconvenient, have difficult side effects, and do not always yield results which satisfy the subject. That people are willing to go through them nevertheless says a lot.

An interesting question. Why would it seem awkward though? I have mannerism that always did seem different to others which didn't bother me much, even when I was being bullied for that. Why am I different, just because I refuse to modify my mannerism, or modify others to accept that? Lacking the guts, or the strenght to stand up to bullies is not easy. But it should prevent any further damage to one's personality or identity. Self-acceptance is crucial.

I've always understood such drastic moves as acts of desperation. My point is that I want to understand what causes such desparation. I suspect that what you call gender dysphoria isn't the prime cause. But I can't know for sure without talking and learning about personal/individual experiences of trans people.

> Self-acceptance is crucial.

However laudable, is that not an ethic rather than an objective assessment? I don't see why that should make us doubt the voices of trans individuals as they describe their situation, even if we might wish for them to achieve self-acceptance.

> I suspect that what you call gender dysphoria isn't the prime cause.

That's not my terminology; it belongs to the medical establishment.


It seems to me like you have idiosyncratic experiences, which are perhaps very interesting, but may not apply well to the lives of trans people.

> Sadly, I don't know any trans person to ask them how they feel and why they feel that way, in person.

The statistics are high enough that you definitely know someone who is trans. They just can't tell you.

Well, they just can't blame me then for not understanding what's going on in their heads. What a feeling that must be, keeping it a secret that they were of opposite gender once. It's mind-boggling to me, really.

There can be severe consequences for those who reveal their transgender identity, from discrimination to death.

The situation is directly analogous to that of closeted gays. The more trans people who come out, the easier it will be for individuals and for society at large to accept them. But many of those in the vanguard will pay a terrible price.

> It's mind-boggling to me, really.

I felt similarly about concept of homosexuality as a teenager back in the late 1980s. When I found out that a musical hero of mine (Bob Mould) was gay, I thought hard about the issue. What was it like to be gay? Could I be gay? What does it feel like to be attracted to someone of the same sex? It was a worthwhile exercise, regardless of the conclusion.

They can blame you for not making an effort to read the many articles about trans people and their views.

You may not know any Nobel Prize winners, but there sure are a lot of books about them you could read, which would give an idea of what's going on their heads.

I prefer talking, thanks.

If you refuse to seek out the information that's out there because it's not your preferred means of learning - then, yes, they can blame you for not understanding what's in their heads.

They don't need you to understand them, they need you to accept them. You don't get everything you want just because you ask.

You are conflating gender with sex

>Sex is mechanical

Male species use sperm to impregnate female eggs

>Gender is a social construct

What do you consider "Manly" or "Feminine"?

I really dislike that 99% of all conversations would end if people just phrased it like this. Since a lot of trans people just want to be treated as a member of the opposite gender.

"Age" is also very much a construct since I could use different calendars and have different birthdays to mark my age. But your cells definitely have a limited lifespan which is what most people care about when they talk about age.

> If gender is fluid why is it so important for trans people to look like women, or men?

Fluid gender (identity; ascribed gender is externally imposed and to the extent it is or is not fluid, that's on society not the person to whom gender is ascribed) is an aspect of some people's gender identity, it is not something people (at least, many people) believe is inherent with all gender identity. Many trans people have as fixed an identity as the most cisnormative people believe all gender is, it's just not a cisgender identity.

> Is it a necessity?

For some, not for others.

> Then why adopt distinct male or female features, genitalia which do not work as intended?

There's a number of reasons (including the way society ascribes gender and mitigating the clash between ascribed gender and gender identity), which vary from individual to individual. But, also, that description of genitalia is the opposite of reality—for people that choose to change their genitalia, it is specifically because the new ones work more as intended by them than the old ones, not that they “do not work as intended”.

> Sadly, I don't know any trans person to ask them how they feel and why they feel that way, in person.

Happily, there's lots of information publicly available from trans people addressing those issues in every kind of media so that you don't need to rely on pestering people face to face to explain their gender identity and feelings surrounding it to you, which lots of people don't like to do.

But talking to people in person about their emotions and feelings is important! It's very hard, I agree, but it's a necesserary thing dealing with issues. You have to speak out things, to actually voice them. Whence you are confident enough to voice them to some other person, you can talk about it and make other people better understand it. Just writing up some article full of technical and medical terms just doesn't do it.

> “He is just himself,” he said. “Trump is the first one who is honest. He shows his emotion on Twitter, saying to everyone, ‘Shut up.’ He’s a new kind of person.”

Someone who tells everyone else to shut up is nowhere near a new kind of person.

Flagging for off topic and not relevant. I don’t come to HN to see stuff like this.

The transgender issue has essentially broken science by grossly politicizing it. I think people should be allowed to live and choose whatever labels they want, even though my personal opinion is that there are only two genders. I think if the law is going to allow someone to change their gender, then age and race should be also on the table. If gender, which is supported by hard science, is flexible then what isn’t? We have to make a decision between personal freedom and science.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact