JENNIFER 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 has small ovaries. At age thirteen, tests revealed that her ovarian structures had minimized, she has stopped growing and she has no breast or menstrual development.
She then alleged that for all interests and appearances as well as in mind and emotion, she has become a male person. Thus, she filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court of Siniloan, Laguna, and 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, Jennifer testified and presented the testimony of Dr. Michael Sionzon of the Department of Psychiatry, University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital.
Doctor Sionzon issued a medical certificate stating that Jennifer's condition is known as CAH. He explained that genetically Jennifer is female but because her body secretes 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 Jennifer's uterus is not fully developed because of lack of female hormones, and that she has no monthly period.
He further testified that Jennifer's condition is permanent and recommended the change of gender because Jennifer has made up her mind, adjusted to her chosen role as male, and the gender change would be advantageous to her.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) granted Jennifer's petition; but the Office of the Solicitor filed a Petition for Review with the Supreme Court raising purely questions of law and seeking a reversal of the RTC decision.
The current state of Philippine statutes apparently compels that a person be classified either as a male or as a female, but the Supreme Court said it is not controlled by mere appearances when nature itself fundamentally negates such rigid classification.
In the instant case, if it is determined that Jennifer be a female, then there is no basis for a change in the birth certificate entry for gender. But if it is determined, based on medical testimony and scientific development showing Jennifer to be other than female, then a change in the subject's birth certificate entry is in order.
Ultimately, the Court is 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 Jennifer, having reached the age of majority, with good reason thinks of his/her sex.
Jennifer 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 persons makes the gender classification at birth inconclusive. It is at maturity that the gender of such persons, like Jennifer, is fixed.
In the absence of a law on the matter, the Court will not dictate on Jennifer concerning a matter so innately private as one's sexuality and lifestyle preferences...
Jennifer is the one who has to live with his 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 Jennifer is an "incompetent" and in the absence of evidence to show that classifying Jennifer as a male will harm other members of society who are equally entitled to protection under the law, the Court affirms as valid and justified Jennifer's position and his personal judgment of being a male.
In so ruling the Supreme Court did no more than give respect to (1) the diversity of nature; and (2) how an individual deals with what nature has handed out. In other words, the Court respects Jennifer's congenital condition and his mature decision to be a male. Life is already difficult for the ordinary person. The Court cannot but respect how Jennifer deals with his unordinary state and thus help make his life easier, considering the unique circumstances in this case. (Republic vs. Cagandahan, 565 SCRA 72 .)