Civil Law – Civil Status – Registration of Births
Jennifer Cagandahan was registered as a female. In 2005, Jennifer’s petition to change the entries in her birth certificate was granted. Thus, trial court ordered that her sex be changed from FEMALE to MALE and her first name from JENNIFER to JEFF.
The basis of the grant was the fact that Jennifer has a medical condition called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) which is a condition where persons thus afflicted possess both male and female characteristics. Here, Jennifer has XX (female ) chromosomes but her body produces male hormones.
The Republic appealed the decision of the trial court on the ground that Rule 103 and 108 were not complied with (Local Civil Registrar was not impleaded and no proof of Jennifer’s residence). It was also contended that her biological condition does not make her a male (she still has female chromosomes).
ISSUE: Whether or not the decision of the trial court should be reversed.
HELD: No. Firstly, notwithstanding the procedural lapses, the Supreme Court ruled that Jennifer substantially complied with the procedural rules when she furnished a copy of the petition to the local civil registrar.
The Supreme Court allowed the change of entries in Jennifer’s birth certificate. Biologically, nature endowed Jeff with a mixed (neither consistently and categorically female nor consistently and categorically male) composition. Jeff has female (XX) chromosomes. However, his body system naturally produces high levels of male hormones (androgen). As a result, Jeff has ambiguous genitalia and the phenotypic features of a male. Jeff 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 persons makes the gender classification at birth inconclusive. It is at maturity that the gender of such persons, like Jeff, is fixed.
Jeff here has simply let nature take its course and has not taken unnatural steps to arrest or interfere with what he was born with. And accordingly, he has already ordered his life to that of a male. He could have undergone treatment and taken steps, like taking lifelong medication, to force his body into the categorical mold of a female but he did not. He chose not to do so. Nature has instead taken its due course in his development to reveal more fully his male characteristics.