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)