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When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman?

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Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 174689 October 22, 2007
ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner,
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
CORONA, J.:
When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created them male and
female. (Genesis 5:1-2)
Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by Bathala and she heard voices coming from
inside the bamboo. "Oh North Wind! North Wind! Please let us out!," the voices said. She
pecked the reed once, then twice. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit open. Out
came two human beings; one was a male and the other was a female. Amihan named the
man "Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda" (Beautiful). (The Legend of Malakas and
Maganda)
When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In particular, does the law recognize the
changes made by a physician using scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a person’s sex?
May a person successfully petition for a change of name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to
reflect the result of a sex reassignment surgery?
On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio filed a petition for the change of
his first name and sex in his birth certificate in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The
petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207, impleaded the civil registrar of Manila as respondent.
Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of Manila to the spouses Melecio
Petines Silverio and Anita Aquino Dantes on April 4, 1962. His name was registered as "Rommel
Jacinto Dantes Silverio" in his certificate of live birth (birth certificate). His sex was registered as
"male."
He further alleged 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.
1
Feeling trapped in
a man’s body, he consulted several doctors in the United States. He underwent psychological
examination, hormone treatment and breast augmentation. His attempts to transform himself to a
"woman" culminated on January 27, 2001 when he underwent sex reassignment surgery
2
in
Bangkok, Thailand. He was thereafter examined by Dr. Marcelino Reysio-Cruz, Jr., a plastic and
reconstruction surgeon in the Philippines, who issued a medical certificate attesting that he
(petitioner) had in fact undergone the procedure.

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From then on, petitioner lived as a 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."
An order setting the case for initial hearing was published in the People’s Journal Tonight, a
newspaper of general circulation in Metro Manila, for three consecutive weeks.
3
Copies of the order
were sent to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the civil registrar of Manila.
On the scheduled initial hearing, jurisdictional requirements were established. No opposition to the
petition was made.
During trial, petitioner testified for himself. He also presented Dr. Reysio-Cruz, Jr. and his American
fiancé, Richard P. Edel, as witnesses.
On June 4, 2003, the trial court rendered a decision
4
in favor of petitioner. Its relevant portions read:
Petitioner filed the present petition not to evade any law or judgment or any infraction thereof
or for any unlawful motive but solely for the purpose of making his birth records compatible
with his present sex.
The sole issue here is whether or not petitioner is entitled to the relief asked for.
The [c]ourt rules in the affirmative.
Firstly, the [c]ourt is of the opinion that granting the petition would be more in consonance
with the principles of justice and equity. With his sexual [re-assignment], petitioner, who has
always felt, thought and acted like a woman, now possesses the physique of a female.
Petitioner’s misfortune to be trapped in a man’s body is not his own doing and should not be
in any way taken against him.
Likewise, the [c]ourt believes that no harm, injury [or] prejudice will be caused to anybody or
the community in granting the petition. On the contrary, granting the petition would bring the
much-awaited happiness on the part of the petitioner and her [fiancé] and the realization of
their dreams.
Finally, no evidence was presented to show any cause or ground to deny the present petition
despite due notice and publication thereof. Even the State, through the [OSG] has not seen
fit to interpose any [o]pposition.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING the petition and ordering the Civil
Registrar of Manila to change the entries appearing in the Certificate of Birth of [p]etitioner,
specifically for petitioner’s first name from "Rommel Jacinto" to MELY and petitioner’s gender
from "Male" to FEMALE.
5
On August 18, 2003, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru the OSG, filed a petition for
certiorari in the Court of Appeals.
6
It alleged that there is no law allowing the change of entries in the
birth certificate by reason of sex alteration.
On February 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals
7
rendered a decision
8
in favor of the Republic. It ruled
that the trial court’s decision lacked legal basis. There is no law allowing the change of either name
or sex in the certificate of birth on the ground of sex reassignment through surgery. Thus, the Court

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 174689             October 22, 2007 ROMMEL JACINTO DANTES SILVERIO, petitioner,  vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. D E C I S I O N CORONA, J.: When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created them male and female. (Genesis 5:1-2) Amihan gazed upon the bamboo reed planted by Bathala and she heard voices coming from inside the bamboo. "Oh North Wind! North Wind! Please let us out!," the voices said. She pecked the reed once, then twice. All of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit open. Out came two human beings; one was a male and the other was a female. Amihan named the man "Malakas" (Strong) and the woman "Maganda" (Beautiful). (The Legend of Malakas and Maganda) When is a man a man and when is a woman a woman? In particular, does the law recognize the changes made by a physician using scalpel, drugs and counseling with regard to a person’s sex? May a person successfully petition for a change of name and sex appearing in the birth certificate to reflect the result of a sex reassignment surgery? On November 26, 2002, petitioner Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio filed a petition for the change of his first name and sex in his birth certificate in the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 8. The petition, docketed as SP Case No. 02-105207, impleaded the civil registrar of Manila as respondent. Petitioner alleged in his petition that he was born in the City of Man ...
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I was having a hard time with this subject, and this was a great help.

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