Sometime in 1989, Christine Lee married Jonathan Littleton, in Kentucky
. Sometime after marriage, they moved to San Antonio, TX
, where they lived happily. However, due to medical circumstances
(that I cannot as of yet find out), Jonathan died under the care of Dr. Mark Prange
in 1996. Upset about the circumstances, Christine decided to prevent the doctor from ever harming anyone else, and filed a medical malpractice
suit against the doctor. During deposition
in preparation for the case, it became known to all parties that Christine's original birth certificate identified her as "Lee Cavazos, Jr." - male.
Attourneys for the defendant immediately pounced upon this discovery, seeking summary judgement by the courts, running with the theory that Christine was "male", the marrage was invalid, and Christine had no legal standing to file the wrongful death suit, as Texas does not allow same-sex marriages. The trial judge agreed with the defendent, and dismissed the wrongful death suit. Christine and her attorney immediately appealed the ruling to the Texas 4th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case, and agreed with the trial judge. "Male chromosomes do not change with either hormonal treatment or sex reassignment surgery. Biologically, a post-operative female transsexual is still a male," stated 4th Court Chief Justice Phil Hardberger, and Justice Karen Angelini agreed. Christine and her attorney appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. who denied petition for review. Her attorney then dropped her, and she sought out new counsel, and filed a petition for rehearing. Once again. the Texas Supreme Court denied her. They then filed a Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, in July of 2000. In October of the same year, the court responded, denying the writ, and leaving her in a legal dead end.
The most interesting fact in the case is that when it came down to it, the judgement made that Christine was male was done based solely on her chromosomes - with the assumption that having XY chromsomes made the person male in the eyes of the state of Texas, regardless of anything else. It should be noted, however, that no medical test was actually done on Christine to determine her chromosomal makeup - the assumption was made by just about everyone that because she had "male" listed on her birth certificate, that she had XY chromosomes - and this is not guaranteed.
Also, this ruling currently only stands in San Antonio. In other parts of Texas, Christine could still legally get married to a man - at least until there are legal challenges elsewhere. San Antonio looks solely at chromosomes, as shown by the ruling. This situation has been taken advantage of, at least twice. Two lesbian couples have received marriage certificates in that county since the court's judgement, both able to legally get married because one person in each couple was a transsexual woman. The fact that the transsexuals both had a driver's licence and birth certificate that identified them as female wasn't relevant, since they had copies of the original birth certificate identifying them as male. The attorney for one couple, Phyllis Frye, who was also involved in Christine's case, stated to the press, "Isn't it amazing? We've got a same-sex marriage that is legal and a heterosexual marriage that was made illegal. That's what happens when government meddles into people's lives."
Another part of the ruling that it appears hasn't been fully explored yet is the question of how it will affect non-transsexuals who don't fit the standard "female is XX/male is XY" dichotomy that the court seems to feel is the only way things are allowed to be. It could cause problems for the large number of intersexed people out there that most people aren't aware of. For example, a woman with androgen insensitivity syndrome, who's chromosomally XY - is she suddenly unable to marry a man, because of the court's short-sighted decision? Suddenly, every interesexed person might find it a crapshoot as to who they're allowed to marry, based entirely on their chromosomes, which in their case, are often really not that helpful for determining their "sex".
Legal Abuse of the "Chromosome Test"
In South Korea in 1996, a woman was brutally raped.
The courts ruled that since she had XY chromosomes
(despite having a rapable vagina) she could not be raped,
and the courts dismissed the rape case against
the multiple defendants, opting for a lesser charge.
Taken literally, the Texas 4th Court of Appeals upholds
the legitimacy of the Korean court's decision.
In a horrific and graphic way, it shows the lunacy
of the "Hardberger decision" and just how far
the courts can go in creating injustices.
As stated by Christine Lee Littleton.