Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Littleton v. Prange
Littleton v. Prange, 9 S.W.3d 223 (1999) (Texas Court of Appeals).
Summary: Littleton was born male, but had a sex change operation as a young adult. Littleton got married to a male. The marriage lasted six years. The male died. Littleton brought a lawsuit against the doctor who treated her husband, as she was permitted to do as the surviving spouse, under Texas' wrongful death statute. Doctor moved for summary judgment, arguing that as a matter of law, because Littleton was actually "male", there had never been a valid marriage, and Littleton was therefore ineligible to bring the suit as the surviving spouse. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment.
Holding: Trial court affirmed. Summary judgment is granted when there are no facts to be determined by the trial court, and the issues present a pure question of law. Appellant is male. Although appellant has believed herself to be female all her life, and although she has had extensive surgery to alter her body to resemble a female body, all her feminine physical characteristics are entirely man-made by physicians. Legislature has not granted post-operative transsexuals the right to marry as females, and it is not appropriate for the courts to grant them that right, in the absence of legislative action.
Concurring Opinion: Agree with majority decision, but this result may cause difficulties for intersex people.
Dissent: Disagree with majority decision. Whether appellant is a male or a female is an issue of fact, that should be decided by the trial court, not an issue of law that can decided on a motion for summary judgment. Court says there's no law on the issue but then says issue can be decided as a matter of law. Furthermore, majority decision relies on appellant's original birth certificate. Appellant amended her birth certificate to reflect her new gender during proceedings in the trial court, and the trial court accepted the amended birth certificate. An amended birth certificate is an official Texas state document, and is like an amended pleading. Therefore it is inappropriate for the majority to rely on the original birth certificate.
This case is posted on Google, here.
Posted by T. at 4:49 AM