Transgender man wants change of first name

Dear Atty. Duran-Schulze,

Hello, I am a Filipino transgender man seeking to change my first name while retaining my original initials. I have been using another name for over a year now but it’s only a nickname.

At present, my first name is causing confusion, especially since I have been going through a medical transition. I would encounter problems with transactions in various establishments from hospitals to those related to customer service because my current name sounds too feminine. I would also occasionally face discrimination in some public venues due to this. 

Since I was born in Quezon City, I approached the local civil registrar for advice. So far, I’ve only been given general answers such as the grounds I can use for changing my name. Will writing a letter to support my request be sufficient? Thank you.

Answer: 

Hi Tes,

We understand the frustration you’re feeling regarding how to change your first name. To date, the law governing the change of first name is R.A. 9048. However, the Supreme Court has been very strict in cases of this nature. Its ruling in Silverio v. Republic (G.R. No. 174689) points out that “R.A. 9048 does not sanction a change of first name on the ground of sex reassignment. Rather than avoiding confusion, changing petitioner’s first name for this declared purpose may only create grave complications in the civil registry and the public interest.”

Section 4 of R.A. 9048 provides the grounds for the change of first name or nickname. The requested change may be allowed under any of the following circumstances:

  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 their given name, they must present a “proper and reasonable cause” to justify such change. In Wang v. Cebu City Civil Registrar, the Court enumerates other grounds that merit a change of name:

  1. When the name is ridiculous, dishonorable, or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; 

  2. When the change results as a legal consequence, as in legitimation;

  3. When the change will avoid confusion; 

  4. When one has continuously used and has been known since childhood by a Filipino name, and was unaware of alien parentage;

  5. A sincere desire to adopt a Filipino name to erase signs of former alienage, all in good faith and without prejudicing anybody; and 

  6. 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.

Going back to your case, discrimination is not one of the grounds enumerated by the court that could warrant a change of name. Hence, in case you decide to pursue your case, the court may most likely dismiss your petition. 

We hope that we were able to answer your query regarding how to change your name. For further assistance, Duran & Duran-Schulze Law is ready to assist you. Call us at (+632) 478 5826 or send an email to info@duranschulze.com. You can also send your message to us here.

Please be informed that the legal opinion above is based solely on facts provided to us and our appreciation of the same.