G.R. No. 174689, 22 October 2007
Petitioner was born and registered as male. He admitted that he is a male transsexual, that is, “anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts as a “female” and that he had always identified himself with girls since childhood. He underwent psychological examination, hormone treatment, breast augmentation and sex reassignment surgery. From then on, petitioner lived as female and was in fact engaged to be married. He then sought to have his name in his birth certificate changed from Rommel Jacinto to Mely, and his sex from male to female. The trial court rendered a decision in favor of the petitioner. Republic of the Philippines thru the OSG filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals. CA rendered a decision in favor of the Republic.
Whether or not petitioner is entitled to change his name and sex in his birth certificate.
Article 376 of the Civil Code provides that no person can change his name or surname without judicial authority which was amended by RA 9048 – Clerical Error Law which does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment. Before a person can legally change his given name, he must present proper or reasonable cause or any compelling reason justifying such change. In addition, he must show that he will be prejudiced by the use of his true and official name. In this case, he failed to show, or even allege, any prejudice that he might suffer as a result of using his true and official name. Article 412 of the Civil Code provides that no entry in the civil register shall be changed or corrected without a judicial order. The birth certificate of petitioner contained no error. All entries therein, including those corresponding to his first name and sex, were all correct. Hence, no correction is necessary. Article 413 of the Civil Code provides that all other matters pertaining to the registration of civil status shall be governed by special laws.
However, there is no such special law in the Philippines governing sex reassignment and its effects. Under the Civil Register Law, a birth certificate is a historical record of the facts as they existed at the time of birth. Thus, the sex of a person is determined at birth, visually done by the birth attendant (the physician or midwife) by examining the genitals of the infant. Considering that there is no law legally recognizing sex reassignment, the determination of a person’s sex made at the time of his or her birth, if not attended by error is immutable.
For these reasons, while petitioner may have succeeded in altering his body and appearance through the intervention of modern surgery, no law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry for that reason. Thus, there is no legal basis for his petition for the correction or change of the entries in his birth certificate. The remedies petitioner seeks involve questions of public policy to be addressed solely by the legislature, not by the courts. Hence, petition is denied.
* Case digest by Aisha Mie Faith M. Fernandez, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018