SC allows 'woman' to change name; sex to 'male'

READ MORE: GMA News Online. SC ruling: 27-year-old ‘woman’ is ‘male’. September 16, 2008 7:11pm. For proving that her body is manifesting natural occurring male characteristics, a 27-year-old woman was allowed by the Supreme Court to change her name and gender entries in her birth certificate.

The high court ruled that Jennifer Cagandahan has congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a rare condition that could cause early or “inappropriate" appearance of male characteristics and produces too much androgen, a male hormone, and involves intersex anatomy. "Ultimately, we are of the view that 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," the Court said in its 13-page decision penned by Senior Associate Justice Leonardo Quisumbing.

"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," the Court added. Concurring in the ruling were Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, Dante Tinga, Presbiterio Velasco Jr. and Arturo Brion. Court records showed that on December 11, 2003, Cagandahan filed a petition for correction of entries in birth certificate before the RTC, as to her name from "Jennifer" to "Jeff," and gender from female to male.

In her petition, she alleged that she was born on January 13, 1981 and was registered as a female in her certificate of birth, but while growing up, she developed secondary male characteristics and was diagnosed to have CAH, a condition where persons afflicted possess both male and female characteristics.
The SC ruling also denied the petition for review filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, representing the Republic of the Philippines, questioning the January 12, 2005 decision of a regional trial court of Siniloan, Laguna that allowed Cagandahan to correct the name and gender entries in her birth certificate. The trial court likewise ordered that Cagandahan's school records, voter's registry, baptismal certificate and other pertinent records amended to conform with the corrected data after acknowledging that she has CAH.

The SC, in its decision, pointed out that in the 20th century, medicine adopted the term "intersexuality" to apply to human beings who cannot be classified as either male or female, or a state of a gonochoristic species whose sex chromosomes, genitalia and secondary sex characteristics are determined to be neither exclusively male or female. "In deciding this case, we consider the compassionate calls for recognition of various degrees of intersex as variations which should not be subject to outright denial," the Court ruled.

The high court further said that while the current state of Philippine statutes apparently compels that a person be classified either as a male or as a female, it is not controlled by mere appearances "when nature itself fundamentally negates such rigid classification." - GMANews.TV. READ MORE: GMA News Online. SC ruling: 27-year-old ‘woman’ is ‘male’. September 16, 2008 7:11pm.

READ MORE: Jeff Cagandahan: ‘More efforts needed to truly include intersex community’.

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