Littleton v. Prange
Press Release 3/30/00 on case

Press Conference:

Monday, April 3, 2000, 1:30 p.m.
Bexar County Justice Center Main Entrance
Conferees: Phyllis Randolph Frye, Attorney; Mrs. Christie Lee Littleton, Petitioner
Attendance by print and visual media are welcome; interview opportunities


Phyllis Randolph Frye
State Bar No: 07496600
Attorney for Petitioner, Christie Lee Littleton
5707 Firenza Street
Houston, Texas 77035-5515


Tere Frederickson
San Antonio Equal Rights Political Caucus
2931 Burnt Oak
San Antonio, TX 78232
210-545-2192 evenings and weekends / 210-737-2813 days

For Immediate Release

Bad News for Texans: Courts Change Gender Criteria

Chromosomes, not physical characteristics, will now be used in Texas for all determinations of gender. An invasive and frequently inaccurate use of chromosome patterns for gender was mandated by Chief Justice Hardberger of the Texas 4th Court of Appeals in September 1999, in the wrongful death suit brought by Christie Lee Littleton concerning her late husband.

Since the ruling, which also invalidated her Kentucky marriage license and 7-year marriage, Mrs. Littleton petitioned for review of the case by the Texas Supreme Court. In March 2000, Texas’ highest court denied hearing her case.

Her new attorney, Phyllis Randolph Frye of Houston and a native San Antonian, will file for extension and subsequent rehearing by the Supreme Court on Monday, April 3, 2000. The case affects all Texans, and some potentially seriously in matters of marriage, inheritance, insurance, and even incarceration.

According to Frye, "In future wrongful death actions, the invasive chromosome testing of the deceased and the surviving spouse will be routine. Many married partners are not aware of their chromosomal make-up."

"Studies show that in Texas alone, between 20,000 (0.1%) and 802,000 (4%) residents, may have non-conforming patterns. Applying the Littleton holding, these marriages are as void as Mrs. Littleton's without the partners being aware. The surviving spouse will be left with no legal recourse, a voided marriage, and a legally, court-imposed, change of sex."

Frye continues by stating that the same percentage of the population will also be affected in probate proceedings and insurance coverage. "Currently, Littleton is being cited in other states in probate actions where there is no will. The children of the deceased parent want to void that parent's current marriage. This would increase their share of the estate by eliminating the statutory share of the surviving spouse."

"The same number of Texans could be affected and find themselves without a share, with no marriage and a legally, court-imposed, change of sex."

In matters of insurance, Frye goes on to say, "The impact on the insurance industry, specifically addressing life insurance only, will be expensive. Many life insurance applications, already require medical examinations. To this will be added the additional expense of chromosome testing which will effect a change in the application of actuarial tables with associated premium re-calculations."

"The same number of Texans could be effected and find themselves without a policy or with a premium change, and with a legally, court-imposed, change of sex."

Even law enforcement and the penal system will be confronted with a new challenge to an already burdened institution. "Within the criminal justice system, inmates in every county are classified and segregated by sex using the appearance of their genitals. Under Littleton, invasive and expensive chromosome testing will be required to verify the genital inspection."

"The same percentage of incarcerated Texans could be effected and find themselves in expensive segregation, having a court-imposed, change of sex with its resulting harassment, and tax the judicial system by writing writs to the federal courts under the Gender Motivated Violence Act and Eighth Amendment."

Christie Lee Littleton never dreamed that her marriage to Jonathon Littleton would be torn to shreds by the Texas Courts when she originally filed for wrongful death of her late husband. The loving couple had consummated their marriage in both Kentucky and Texas in the manner of all married couples. They helped each other through sickness and health, fulfilling their marriage vows.

In Texas, they lived as husband and wife since at the time, Texas was constitutionally bound to honor valid marriages licensed in all other states. The couple filed joint federal income tax returns which were accepted by the government, also recognizing a valid marriage of the two.

As Chief Justice Hardberger observed in his published opinion, the recently enacted federal Defense of Marriage Act allows one state to disallow recognition of marriage licensed by another state. It seems quite odd that a "defense of marriage" law didn’t defend the validity of Mrs. Littleton’s long-term marriage in Justice Hardberger’s court.

Today, not only has Mrs. Littleton’s marriage been invalidated, but she finds herself being classified, without absolute proof of chromosome makeup, by the Texas courts as a "male" with a vagina. This is despite earlier classification under the Texas Health and Safety Code, with requisite medical affidavits, as "female," which is likewise shown on all her Texas, federal, and other identifying documents.

If the ruling of the 4th Court of Appeals is allowed to stand, thousands of Texans will find themselves in the same state of legal limbo with no legal recourse. The ruling, will, in effect, require that all Texans undergo at least one invasive and expensive chromosome test sometime in their lives to legally determine their court-defined gender—a test tried and quickly abandoned due to inaccuracy in international Olympic sports competition.



The numbers and percentages above were based on a US Census estimate of Texas population dated July 1999 and studies cited in:

  1. Julie A. Greenberg, Defining Male and Female: Intersexuality and the Collision Between Law and Biology, 41 Ariz. L.C. 265, 1999, phone 619-297-9700
  2. Randy Ettner, Gender Loving Care: A Guide to Counseling Gender-Variant Clients, W.W. Norton & Co, New York, 1999, ISBN 0-393-70304-5,

For additional information about the Constitutional implications, contact Professor Neil McCabe at South Texas College of Law, 713-646-1842.

For information concerning the intersexed, contact Cheryl Chase of the Intersex Society of North America at

For information concerning the political activism of transgendered Texans, contact Sarah DePalma of the Texas Gender Advocacy and Information Network at

If the Texas Supreme Court does not grant these motions, then a writ of certiorari will be filed with the US Supreme Court. For information on that issue, contact:

Alyson Meiselman
Maryland Bar No: 213589249
Attorney for Petitioner - Pending pro hoc vice order
14400 Lake Winds Way
North Potomac, Maryland 20878

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Last revised: Saturday, May 06, 2000 09:40 AM

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