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Change is Here

Change is Here

The Supreme Court with stroke of pen allowed the changes of entries in the birth certificate of Jennifer B. Cagandahan and ordered that the name “Jennifer Cagandahan” changed to “Jeff Cagandahan” and the gender from “female” to “male.
In a thirteen-page decision penned by Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, the High Court ordered granted Jennifer Cagandahan’s Petition for Correction of Entries in Birth Certificate and affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna.

Jennifer Cagandahan was born on January 13, 1981 an 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). CAH is a condition where persons afflicted possesses both male and female characteristics. She further alleged that she was diagnosed to have clitoral hyperthopy in her early years and at age six, she underwent an ultrasound where it was discovered that she has small ovaries. However, at the age of thirteen, tests showed that her ovarian structures had minimized, she stopped growing and she had no breast or menstrual development. She claimed therefore that for all interests and appearances as well as in mind and emotion, she has become a male person.

The RTC of Siniloan, Laguna granted his petition in a decision dated January 23, 2005. The Office of the Solicitor General sought the reversal of the decision claiming that the trial court erred in ordering the correction of entries in the birth certificate of respondent to have her sex or gender changed from female to male, and her name from “Jennifer” to “Jeff” on the ground of her medical condition known as CAH.

The High Tribunal affirmed the decision of the trial court recognizing the existence of persons having intersex anatomy. The Court, citing Wikipedia,said that intersex “is the state of a living thing of a gonochorostic species whose sex chromosomes, genitalia, and/or secondary sex characteristics are determined to be neither exclusively male nor female. An organism with intersex may have biological characteristics of both male and female sexes.”

The Court said that, “Sexual development in case of intersex persons makes gender classification at birth inconclusive. It is at maturity that the gender of such persons, like respondent, is fixed.” It further adds that the respondent “let nature take its course and has not taken unnatural steps to arrest or interfere with what he was born with.”

In deciding in the Jeff’s favor, the Supreme Court “do no more than give respect to 1) the diversity of nature; and 2) how an individual deals with what nature has handed out.” The Court respected the condition of Jeff and his decision to be male. According to the Court “Life is already difficult for the ordinary person. We cannot but respect how respondent deals with hisunordinary state and this help make his life easier, considering the unique circumstances in this case.”

NOTES:

  1. “Intersex” is the gender sensitive and politically acceptable term for what we know as “hermaphrodite.” The latter is a combination of the names of the Greek gods Hermes and Aphrodite. Mythology tells us that when Hermes and Aphrodite had a child, the child had features of both male and female, hence the name.
  2. The case Republic of the Philippines  v. Jennifer B. Cagandahan, G.R. No. 166676 was decided by the Philippine Supreme Court in September 12, 2008.

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