MN court: Your age is whatever your birth record says it is

If you believe that time is so relative that it is whatever we think it is, you can perhaps identify with John Doe, the unnamed person who wants to change his birthdate to April 10, 1976.

This week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals said “no”.

He acknowledges that he was actually born on April 10, 1969, but claims he is a “survivor of a profound mental illness” early in his life that has had a “profound impact on his identity” at present, causing him to identify as younger than his chronological age, according to court records.

A doctor said Doe feels most comfortable around people who are 5 to 15 years younger. Another says he “identifies as an age significantly younger
than his chronological age,” and a change in his birth record could allow appellant to “develop a more cohesive sense of self” and “relate more satisfactorily to his peers.”

A district court said it’s not without sympathy for the man, but that there’s nothing factually wrong about his record of birth.

This week the Court of Appeals agreed.

It too was sympathetic to the man’s struggles. But the law isn’t about sympathy.

“Although we are likewise sympathetic to appellant’s concerns, we are bound by clear Minnesota law. Nothing in Minnesota Statutes section 144.218, subdivision 4, allows for modification of a petitioner’s date of birth, where the birth record accurately reflects the date, and “[i]t is not the function of this court to establish new causes of action.”

John Doe told the court an age change is analogous to a petition to modify a birth record to change a sex-designation. But the court said there’s no legal authority anywhere that’s made that claim and suggested the public policy of the request is better directed to the Minnesota Supreme Court or the Legislature.

“When we first talked about bringing the petition at the District Court, he was well aware of the odds. We were realistic about the obstacles we faced,” Kathryn Lammers, Doe’s attorney, told Minnesota Lawyer. “What he was really looking for is an acknowledgment that this type of situation is real.”

“I think both courts did a good job of recognizing the humanity piece [of the petition] and not trivializing it,” she said. “It was an interesting case. He was a great guy to work with, a really cool individual.”

(h/t: Minnesota Lawyer)

  • Rob

    The reverse ruling would have been fun. It’s ok officer, I may have been born 15 years ago but I identify as 21.”

  • Lack of long-term planning: Physical body of a 65-year-old but “identifies” as a 59-year-old can’t collect Social Security or Medicare for six more years.

    • I presume he’s on Social Security disability already.

      • But, maybe not? The article only addresses a “claim [of] severe mental health struggles through adolescence”, making no mention of any current status. Also: Disability payments are not retirement benefits – me making the greater assumption that this person has been gainfully employed all these years.

        Also: My math was off by one year. :/

  • Will

    Who’s on the talk show… It’s not Kerri…Good show topic. I don’t think you should be able to choose your birthdate.

  • joetron2030

    As Aaliyah sang: “Age ain’t nothing but a number.”

  • Mike Worcester

    It is an interesting cultural study to see how other societies/cultures handle birth dates. Some don’t really put much stock on them at all.

    https://www.minnpost.com/new-americans/2017/01/why-so-many-somali-americans-celebrate-their-birthday-jan-1

  • Rob

    But isn’t 60 the new 40?

  • Zachary

    Turning back the odometer on your call is illegal as well.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    Unless someone can prove that they are a time traveler. Then calculating age becomes a bit more dodgy.

  • Gwen Spurgat

    What if you want to identify as older and collect Social Security earlier?

    • BJ

      Not only that but depending on your age your Social Security benefit can increase or decrease.

  • lindblomeagles

    In this case, the court is 10,000% correct. The government does a lot of data collection on individuals (see your employer and any application for a credit card or loan). Part of this collection is for our own protection from nefarious individuals that would assume our identities and take personal items that belong to us. Opening that Pandora’s box, millions of Americans changing their ages and all the identifying information that must be changed with it, such as a driver’s license, is asking a lower court A LOT. I’m not even sure the Supreme Court should decide this. This is best left to the Legislative process.