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02 May 2013

Christie Lee Littleton (1952 – 2014) beautician.

++ updated April 2014

Lee Cavazos, Jr was born in San Antonio, Texas. As a child Lee was prescribed male hormones in an attempt to 'cure' gender dysphoria.

From the age of 17 Lee was searching for a physician who would help her change into a woman. At age 23 she was accepted by the University of Texas Health Science Center. Supervised by psychiatrist Paul Mohl and surgeon Donald Greer, she legally changed her name to Christie Lee Cavazos in 1977 and started female hormones. Between November 1979 and February 1980 she underwent three sessions of genital and breast surgery. She changed her Texas birth certificate.

Ten years later she travelled to Kentucky for bladder surgery after a car accident, and met Jonathan Littleton (born 1961) in a motel lobby. She told him of her past and they married in Pikeville, Kentucky. They moved back to San Antonio where she opened a beauty salon and he was a high-rise window washer.

After seven years of marriage, her husband died while under medical care after a series of injuries and blood clots. In 1999, in Littleton vs. Prang she sued the doctor who, she contended, negligently allowed her husband to die. The doctors’ defense lawyers argued that she was never married to her late husband since her Texas birth certificate, although amended to read female, originally read male, and thus could not be the widow as Texas law does not allow “same sex marriage”. The issue of medical malpractice was not addressed.

Her appeal to a higher court also failed on the same grounds. She appealed to the US Supreme Court, with attorney Phyllis Frye, but it declined to hear the case. She also lost her right to her husband’s Social Security and retirement benefits.

This case was cited as a precedent in the J’Noel Gardner case in Kansas, and the Nikki Araguz case in Texas.

Christie married a second time and became Mrs Van De Putte.

Christie died aged 61, predeceased by her second husband.  She had a Catholic funeral.

*Not the UCLA law professor.

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