Littleton v. Prange

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Littleton v. Prange
CourtFourth Court of Appeals of Texas
Full case nameChristie Lee LITTLETON, Individually and as Next Heir of Jonathon Mark Littleton, Appellant, v. Dr. Mark PRANGE, Appellee.
DecidedOctober 27, 1999 (1999-10-27)
Citation(s)9 S.W.3d 223
Case opinions
Decision byPhil Hardberger

Littleton v. Prange, 9 S.W.3d 223 (1999), is a 1999 lawsuit that voided the marriage between where one of the individuals was a transgender woman, Christie Lee Littleton. The Fourth Court of Appeals of Texas ruled that, for purposes of Texas law, Littleton was considered male, and that Littleton's marriage to a man was therefore invalid. Texas law did not recognize same-sex marriage, at the time of the ruling.[1][2]


Christie Lee Littleton was assigned male at birth, in San Antonio, Texas in 1952. Littleton dropped out of school at age 15 and began living as a woman. In 1977 Littleton began taking female hormones and legally changed her name to Christie Lee Cavazos. In 1980, Littleton underwent surgical reassignment and had the requisite state-issued identification changed to female.[3] In the 1990s Littleton met and married Jonathan Mark Littleton in Kentucky, later moving to San Antonio.


After her Jonathan Littleton's death, Littleton brought a medical malpractice suit against her husband's doctor, Mark Prange.[4] The defense attorney argued that the marriage was invalid because Littleton was a biological male. On appeal, Chief Justice Phil Hardberger relied on the fact that "Texas statutes do not allow same-sex marriages" and that "male chromosomes do not change with either hormonal treatment or sex reassignment surgery" in handing down his judgment that "Christie Littleton is a male. As a male, Christie cannot be married to another male. Her marriage to Jonathon was invalid, and she cannot bring a cause of action as his surviving spouse."[5]

The decision made it legal for a cis woman to marry a trans woman who had undergone sex reassignment surgery and transitioned to female as long as the two partners were assigned opposite sexes at birth.[6][7]

In fiction[edit]

Littleton v. Prange is cited in the fictional 2010 Drop Dead Diva episode "Queen of Mean".[8] In the episode, lawyers for a post-operative trans woman cite the case to prove that her marriage to a cis woman, entered into before she transitioned, was valid, allowing her to inherit her deceased wife's estate.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Engel, David; McCann, Michael (April 24, 2009). Fault Lines: Tort Law as Cultural Practice. Stanford University Press. pp. 149–. ISBN 9780804771207. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  2. ^ Littleton v. Prange, No. 99-1214 (Tex. May 18, 2000)
  3. ^ Celia Kitzinger & Sue Wilkinson (2006). Genders, sexualities and equal marriage rights. Lesbian and Gay Psychology Review
  4. ^ Dahir, Mubarak (October 10, 2000). Genetics vs. love. The Advocate
  5. ^ Littleton v. Prange, 9 SW3d 223
  6. ^ Pesquera, Adolfo (September 7, 2000). Lesbian couple get license to wed Transsexual ruling clears the way. San Antonio Express-News
  7. ^ Lindell, Chuck (August 10, 2010). "Abbott declines transgender marriage question". Austin American-Statesman. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  8. ^ "Queen of Mean". Drop Dead Diva. Event occurs at 27:39. GRAYSON, IN LITTLETON vs. PRANGE, Wasn't christie littleton's marriage invalidated because she was identified as a male on her birth certificate and she couldn't marry another male?

External links[edit]