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My Story

Jeff B. Cagandahan

I was born on January 13, 1981 in the Municipality of

Pakil, Province of Laguna, Philippines.
During my infancy, my female characteristics are more
apparent – although my clitoris was enlarged. As i was
growing up I began to gradually develop male
characteristics. My actions, anatomy, feature, and
mannerisms became unquestionably male. Since childhood
i know there's something different about me. I noticed in
my family’s medical encyclopaedia that the word HERMAPHRODITE was
highlighted. My curiosity began but because my family is not talking about it I stop
asking questions.
I entered high school at a Catholic School. All girls are required to wear skirts
as school uniform. I hate wearing
skirts but can do nothing but to
follow the school policy. I graduated
and was admitted at Polytechnic
University of the Philippines Sta.
Mesa, Manila where I took Bachelor
in Physical Education. I cannot
forget the day when I needed to

enrol in a six (6) months swimming class which was a requirement for passing the
course. The swimming instructor told our class that we cannot enter the pool if we
are not wearing the proper swimming attire. I started to worry about wearing
swimsuit because during those days my male characteristics are more dominant
than her female characteristics, especially my physical appearance. I look like a
male with long hair. My breasts never develop and not once did she experience
menstruation. I was worried that my classmates will notice that. I needed to buy a
swimsuit with foam to look like i have breasts. Another problem i encountered was
after the swimming class we need to go to the shower room to take a shower before
going home. My problem is that i cannot join my classmates at the girls shower
room because all my female classmates are naked when taking a shower. I feel
uncomfortable to see my classmates naked. That’s why i always find a reason to
excuse myself from taking a shower with them. I always tell my classmates that i
forgot something in my boarding house and or needs to go home early. For the
duration of six months that’s my excuse. I feel relieved when the swimming class
ended and my classmates didn’t notice a thing. As an athlete (sprinter), during
competition i always borrow bra from my mother so that no one will notice my flat
breast. On my 3​rd ​year in the university, I decided not to pursue the sports I love
because of the fear that they will found out my condition.
When i go to the female washroom, girls who don’t know me are shocked and
are shouting at me that the male washroom is at the other side of the corridor. I can
do nothing but explain that I’m a girl. I graduated college and pass the Licensure
Examination for Teachers. After graduation, i was hired to teach at a College in
Bicol own by a family friend who was a prominent lawyer who knows my case. I
was introduced to my co-worker and students as male by the name Jeff. One day,

while reading at the College library i noticed the words Congenital Adrenal
Hyperplasia (CAH). That day i started to search more about Congenital Adrenal
I decided to consult an endocrinologist at Philippine General Hospital (PGH)
and at the age of 22 i was diagnosed with simple virilizing CAH. My facial
features, physical appearance, voice, external genitalia and even preference for the
opposite sex are consistent with being male. I also consulted the Department
Urology and Psychiatry of Philippine General Hospital. Dr. Michael Sionzon of the
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine certifies that i have been
assessed to be psychologically and emotionally competent to make the decision to
have a legal change in gender status to male. I was further assessed to have no
symptoms of any psychotic, mood or anxiety disorder, and based on previous
experience, claims to be more comfortable being referred to as a male.
The entry of my name and gender in my Birth Certificate is a factor on why I
was having a hard time being employed and at the same time proves to be a
hindrance should i marry someday and have my own family. The use of my female
name causes me inconveniences and in many ways embarrassment, as people see
me as a male but my name is female. Employers shun hiring me because of the
confusion between my name and my physical appearance.
This makes me decide to file a petition to the Court. I seek that my name
”Jennifer Cagandahan” entered in her birth certificate, public and school records be
expunged and be changed to “Jeff Cagandahan”. I also asked the court that my
gender, entered as “female” be stricken out and be changed to “male”. My main
purpose in petitioning the court for the amendment of my Birth Certificate is to
enable me to live normally as a male, to find employment and to have a family in

the future. With the helped of my relatives who are lawyers, Atty. Edgard and
Millicent Smith, the court granted my petition – the very first of its kind to succeed
in the Philippines. Here is the link about the Supreme Court (Highest Court in the
Philippines) Decision
We established ​Intersex Philippines, Inc., ​a support group that advocate for
equality and protection of Filipino intersex. If I can be of any help please feel free
to contact me at​ ​ ​ or ​message us at our Facebook page
Intersex Philippines. ​I’m also a proud member of ​Intersex Asia​, ​a regional network
for intersex in Asia.
Now, I’m 38 years old although I was diagnosed late, I’m happy that God
gave me a mission which is to share my story with others. I hope that I can be an
inspiration to many intersex - you are not alone! Always remember that we are
special, we are unique and we are God’s masterpiece.