Republic vs. Jennifer Cagandahan

G.R. No. 166676
September 12, 2008

The plaintiff was registered at birth as female, but developed secondary male characteristics over time. He was diagnosed with congenital adrenal hyperplasia and displayed both male and female characteristics. At age six the plaintiff was diagnosed with clitoral hypertrophy and small ovaries; at age thirteen the ovaries had minimised, he had no breasts and no menstrual cycle. He stated that in his mind, appearance, emotions and interests he was a male person, and therefore asked that his birth certificate sex be changed to male, and that his name be changed from Jennifer to Jeff. A medical expert testified that the plaintiff was genetically female but that, because the plaintiff’s body secreted male hormones, his female organs had not developed normally. He further testified that the plaintiff’s condition was permanent and recommended the change of gender because the plaintiff had adjusted to his chosen role as male and the gender change would be advantageous to him.


Whether the court should recognise a new name and gender identity to reflect the chosen gender of an intersex person who was raised as the opposite gender.


The Court considered the compassionate calls for recognition of the various degrees of intersex as variations which should not be subject to outright denial.  The current state of Philippine statutes apparently compels that a person be classified either as a male or as a female, but this Court is not controlled by mere appearances when nature itself fundamentally negates such rigid classification.

Cagandahan thinks of himself as a male and considering that his body produces high levels of male hormones, there is preponderant biological support for considering him as being a male.  Sexual development in cases of intersex persons makes the gender classification at birth inconclusive.  According to the Court, for intersex persons gender classification at birth was inconclusive. It is at maturity that the gender of such persons like Cagandahan, is fixed.

The Court considered that the plaintiff had allowed “nature to take its course” and had not interfered with what “he was born with”. By not forcing his body to become female, he permitted the male characteristics of the body to develop. Thus the Court rejected the objections of the solicitor general and held that, where no law governed the matter,

The Court held that where the individual was biologically or naturally intersex, it was reasonable to allow that person to determine his or her own gender.

Remedial Law (Special Proceedings; Rule 103 on regulating name change & 108 on cancellation or correction of civil registry entries)
Court has 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 adduced and the consequences that will follow. The trial court’s grant of respondent’s change of name from Jennifer to Jeff implies a change of a feminine name to a masculine name. Considering the consequence that respondent’s change of name merely recognizes his preferred gender, we find merit in respondent’s change of name

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