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God did not make mistakes in creating me!


Jeff Cagandahan, IntersexPhilippines
Jeff Cagandahan, IntersexPhilippines


I am Jeff Cagandahan, President and co-founder of IntersexPhilippines, which pioneered the advocacy for the equality and protection of Filipino intersex individuals.  As the first intersex Filipino legally allowed to change sex marker, I hold a significant role in advancing the rights of the intersex community in the Philippines.  


During my 4th grade, I remember, crying every night, asking God, “Why, of all the people in the world – why you created me like this?”  I thought I was the only one created like “this”. Later, as a teacher, it was difficult to come to class dressed as a female but looking like a male. I could hear people in the background, thinking out loud about my gender. Assigned as female at birth but looking like a male, using the female rest room was a painful challenge.  Females would bawl me out and push me to use the male rest room. 


Jeff enjoying a meal and conversations with his company
Jeff enjoying a meal and conversations with his company


The Journey


In 2003, refusing to be invisible, Jeff could not live anymore as a female. He sought the help of his uncle, a lawyer, and filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), seeking for change of name and sex marker in his birth certificate.  RTC granted the petition to change name and sex marker. However, the Solicitor General opposed this decision. The case had to be elevated to the Supreme Court. In 2008, Supreme Court issued a final decision – change of entries in the civil registry – Jennifer became Jeff and female assigned as male


Vindicated, Jeff felt free to live the life he wants to live! Intersex persons and parents of intersex children connected with him and thanked him for being brave. Now, they know that they are not alone. Jeff realized that advocating for the rights of the intersex community is his mission. Jeff became the Kuya (big brother) of the intersex community in the Philippines. This marked the birth of IntersexPhilippines, which began as an informal online entity.


Jeff broadened his regional network and Intersex Asia was created in 2018. Under the Voice grant, Intersex Asia has collected data to produce various forms of publications with implications for policy response and advocacy related to intersex human rights in the Philippines. In March 2024CAGANDAHAN BILL, was filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros in the Philippine Senate. It embodies the essence of inclusivity and respect for diversity, aiming to protect the rights and dignity of intersex individuals across the nation. 

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