Dear Atty. Duran-Schulze,
Hello, I am a Filipino transgender man seeking to change my first name and gender. I have been using another name for over a year now but it’s just a nickname. What I intend to do now is change my first name while retaining my original initials. I am currently thinking of using this reason: first name causes confusion. I have been going through a medical transition and I usually encounter problems with transactions (hospitals, customer service) as my current name sounds too feminine. There are times when I also face discrimination in other public venues because of this. Do you think writing a letter to support my request would be sufficient? Thank you.
We refer to RA 9048, the law that governs the change of first name.
We understand your frustrations, however, the Supreme Court has been very strict in cases involving change of name. The Supreme Court has already ruled in Silverio v. Republic (G.R. No. 174689) that “RA 9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion, changing the petitioner’s first name for his declared purpose may only create grave complications in the civil registry and the public interest.”
Section 4 of RA 9048 provides the grounds for the change of first name or nickname:
“SECTION 4. Grounds for Change of First Name or Nickname. – The petition for change of first name or nickname may be allowed in any of the following cases:
(1) The petitioner finds the first name or nickname to be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce;
(2) The new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and he has been publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community; or
(3) The change will avoid confusion.”
The Court further explained that before a person can legally change her given name, she must present a ‘proper and reasonable cause’ or any compelling reason justifying such change. In Wang v. Cebu City Civil Registrar (G.R. No. 159966), the Court enumerates other grounds for change of name that have been held to be valid in various cases:
“(a) when the name is ridiculous, dishonorable or extremely difficult to write or pronounce;
(b) when the change results as a legal consequence, as in legitimation;
(c) when the change will avoid confusion;
(d) when one has continuously used and been known since childhood by a Filipino name, and was unaware of alien parentage;
(e) a sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and
(f) when the surname causes embarrassment and there is no showing that the desired change of name was for a fraudulent purpose or that the change of name would prejudice public interest.”
Applying this to your case, discrimination is not one of the grounds enumerated by the court that would warrant change of name. Hence, in case you decided to pursue your case, there is a high probability that the court would dismiss your petition.
However, You can legally change your name from Ray to Reine provided that you have been using that name for years and you have documents to support your petition for change of name. The change of name shall be filed before the Local Civil Registry Office where your certificate of live birth is registered, usually the locality where you were born.
On the other hand, the change of male to female due to sex reassignment is not yet allowed under the laws of the Philippines. If the change of gender is due to clerical error, this could be done via the same petition to change your name. Otherwise, it is not permitted.
Need further information and assistance? Talk to our Legal team at Duran & Duran-Schulze Law. Call us today at (+632) 8478 5826 or send an email to [email protected] for more information.
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