"Female" with both penis, vagina allowed by Court to change name, sex on birth certificate


In one case, the SC had the occasion to say that where the person is biologically or naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification would be what the individual, having reached the age of majority with good reason thinks of his/her sex.

On December 11, 2003, respondent Jennifer Cagandahan filed a Petition for Correction of Entries in her Birth Certificate before the RTC of Siniloan, Laguna.

In her petition, she alleged that she was born on January 13, 1981 and was registered as a female in the Certificate of Live Birth but while growing up, she developed secondary male characteristics and was diagnosed to have Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) which is a condition where persons thus afflicted possess both male and female characteristics. She further alleged that she was diagnosed to have clitoral hyperthropy in her early years and at age six, underwent an ultrasound where it was discovered that she had small ovaries. At age thirteen, tests revealed that her ovarian structure had minimized, she has stopped growing and has no breast or menstrual development. She then alleged for all intents and appearances as well as in mind and emotion, she had become a male person. Thus, she prayed that her birth certificate be corrected such that her gender be changed from female to male and her first name be changed from Jennifer to Jeff.

To prove her claim, respondent testified and presented the testimony of Dr. Michael Sionzon of the Department of Psychiatry, University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital. Dr. Siozon issued a medical certificate stating that the respondent’s condition was known as CAH. He explained that genetically respondent was female but because her body secreted male hormones, her female organs did not develop normally and she has two sex organs – female and male. He testified that this condition is very rare, that respondent’s uterus was not fully developed because of lack of female hormones and that she had no monthly period. He further testified that respondent’s condition was permanent and recommended the change of gender because respondent has made up her mind, adjusted to her chosen role as male, and the gender change would be advantageous to her.

The RTC granted the petition as it presented clear and convincing evidence that her body produced male hormones and that her feeling and actions are that of a male. He has chosen to be male and wanted to be known and acknowledged as such. The OSG appealed, and argued that Rule 108 does not allow change of sex or gender in the birth certificate and respondent’s claimed medical condition known as CAH does not make her a male.

On the other hand, respondent countered that he is actually a male person and hence his birth certificate has to be corrected to reflect his true sex/gender, change of sex or gender is allowed under Rule 108, and respondent substantially complied with the requirement of Rules 103 and 108 of the Rules of Court.
WHAT DID THE SUPREME COURT SAY? Respondent undisputedly has CAH. This condition causes the early or “inappropriate” appearance of male characteristics.

Where the person is biologically or naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification would be what the individual, like respondent, having reached the age of majority, with good reason thinks of his/her sex. Respondent here thinks of himself as a male and considering that his body produces high levels of male hormones (androgen) there is preponderant biological support for considering him as being male. Sexual development in cases of intersex person makes the gender classification at birth inconclusive. It is at maturity that the gender of such person, like respondent, is fixed.

In the absence of a law on the matter, the court will not dictate on respondent concerning a matter so innately private as one’s sexuality and lifestyle preference, much less on whether or not to undergo medical treatment to reverse the male tendency due to CAH. The Court will not consider respondent as having erred in not choosing to undergo treatment in order to become or remain as a female. Neither will the court force respondent to undergo treatment and to take medication in order to fit the mold of a female, as society commonly currently knows this gender the human species. Respondent is the one who has to live with intersex anatomy. To him belongs the human right to the pursuit of happiness and of health. Thus, to him should belong the primordial choice of what courses of action to take along the path of his sexual development and maturation. In the absence of evidence that respondent is an “incompetent” and in the absence of evidence to show that classifying respondent as a male will harm other members of society who are equally entitled to protection under the law, the court affirm as valid and justified the respondent’s position his personal judgment of being a male.

As for his change of name under Rule 103, it has always been held that a change of name is not a matter of right but of judicial discretion, to be exercised in the light of the reasons added and the consequences that will follow. (Yu v. Republic, 123 Phil 1106 (1996). The trial court’s grant of respondent’s change of name from Jennifer to Jeff implied a change of a feminine name to a masculine name. Considering the consequence that respondent’s change of name merely recognized his preferred gender, there is merit in respondent’s change of name. Such a change will conform with the change of the entry in his birth certificate from female to male. (Republic v. Jennifer B. Cagandahan, G.R. No. 166676)

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