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Living History: On changing one’s sex by petitioning the Phl courts

For the Supreme Court, “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.”

Where does the court stand on self-determination of trans people in the Philippines?

In 2002, Mely Silverio, a post-op transsexual woman, filed a legal petition to change her name, as well as her sex from “male” to “female”. While the trial court decided in her favor in 2003, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) appealed the decision.

In 2006, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the lower court. Silverio appealed the decision to the Supreme Court (SC), which – in 2007 – ruled against Silverio, thereby ending the possibility of changing one’s sex by petitioning the courts.

For the SC, “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.”

The Silverio decision also produced the court’s definition of male and female when it said that: “Female is the sex that produces ova or bears young and male is the sex that has organs to produce spermatozoa for fertilizing ova.”

Sources:

Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio versus Republic of the Philippines (G.R. No. 174689), Available at http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2007/october2007/174689.htm.

UNDP, USAID (2014). “Being LGBT in Asia: The Philippines Country Report.” Bangkok.

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