Question 3, 2018 Civil Law Bar Exam

III

(Question III, Civil Law, 2018 Bar Exam)

Silverio was a woman trapped in a man’s body. He was born male and his birth certificate indicated his gender as male, and his name as Silverio Stalon. When he reached the age of 21, he had a sex reassignment surgery in Bangkok, and, from then on, he lived as a female. On the basis of his sex reassignment, he filed an action to have his first name changed to Shelley, and his gender, to female. While he was following up his case with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, he met Sharon Stan, who also filed a similar action to change her first name to Shariff, and her gender, from female to male.

Sharon was registered as a female upon birth. While growing up, she developed male characteristics and was diagnosed to have congenital adrenal hyperplasia (“CAH”) which is a condition where a person possesses both male and female characteristics. At puberty, tests revealed that her ovarian structures had greatly minimized, and she had no breast or menstrual development. Alleging that for all intents and appearances, as well as mind and emotion, she had become a male, she prayed that her birth certificate be corrected such that her gender should be changed from female to male, and that her first name should be changed from Sharon to Shariff.

Silverio and Sharon fell in love and decided to marry. Realizing that their marriage will be frowned upon in the Philippines, they travelled to Las Vegas, USA where they got married based on the law of the place of celebration of the marriage. They, however, kept their Philippine citizenship.

(a) Is there any legal bases for the court to approve Silverio’s petition for correction of entries in his birth certificate? (2.5%)

(b) Will your answer be the same in the case of Sharon’s petition? (2.5%)

(c) Can the marriage of Silverio (Shelley) and Sharon (Shariff) be legally recognized as valid in the Philippines? (2.5%)

Suggested Answer:

(a) No. Answer

Under jurisprudence, it has been held that no law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry on the ground of sex reassignment. Rule

In the case at bar, the sex reassignment of Siliverio is not a recognized ground under the law for a change of sex in his birth certificate. Apply

Thus, there is no legal basis for the court to approve Silverio’s petition for correction of entries in his birth certificate. Conclusion

(b) No. Answer

Under jurisprudence, where the person is biologically or naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification would be what the individual, having reached the age of majority, with good reason thinks of his/her sex. Rule

In the case at bar, Sharon is an intersex. Since she has reached the age of majority, and she identifies to being male, then she has a ground for a change of sex in her birth certificate. Apply

Thus, my answer will not be the same in the case of Sharon. Conclusion

(c) Yes. Answer

Under the Civil Code, laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad. Under the Family Code, a marriage is between a man and a woman. Rule

In the case at bar, Silverio (Shelley) and Sharon (Shariff) are both Filipino citizens. Filipino laws apply to their status even if they are abroad. There is no indication that their respective petitions before the Manila RTC has been decided and hence they remain respectively a male and a female, under the law. Accordingly, and legally speaking in terms of their respective original birth certificates, Silverio is a male/man while Sharon is a female/woman who have no legal impediment to marry each other when they did so in Las Vegas, USA. Apply

Thus, the marriage of Silverio (Shelley) and Sharon (Shariff) can be legally recognized as valid in the Philippines. Conclusion

(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)

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