Christie Lee and Jonathan Mark Littleton on their wedding
day. (Photo: ChristieLee.net)
S.A. transgender pioneer Christie
Lee Littleton Van De Putte has died
QSanAntonio, April 3, 2014
Christie Lee Littleton Van De Putte, a San Antonio transgender woman who
in 1999 was denied the status of a surviving spouse after her husband's
death, died on March 15.
Van De Putte, a San Antonio native, was 61 years of age and worked as
a hair stylist. No cause of death was made public. Her funeral mass was
on March 25 at Holy Family Catholic Church. Interment was at Ft. Sam Houston
QSanAntonio has learned that the San Antonio Gender Association is planning
a vigil for Van De Putte. Details about this event will be forthcoming.
The 1999 legal ruling that made Van De Putte's story famous, was made
by former Mayor Phil Hardberger when he was Chief Justice of the 4th Court
of Appeals. In that case Van De Putte (then Christie Lee Littleton) had
been legally married to a man in Kentucky but denied widow's benefits
upon his death.
Hardberger agreed with 285th District Court Judge Frank Montalvo in his
ruling that, because of chromosomal evidence, Littleton’s marriage
to Jonathan Littleton was a same-sex marriage and therefore illegal.
“The male chromosomes do not change with either hormonal treatment
or sex reassignment surgery,” Hardberger wrote in his ruling. “Biologically
a post-operative female transsexual is still a male.”
Hardberger's decision became law in the thirty-two counties located in
South Texas and the Texas Hill Country that comprise the Fourth Court
In March of 2007, Hardberger addressed a meeting of the Stonewall Democrats
of San Antonio and discussed the case during a question and answer session.
In the only tense moment of that evening, Hardberger defended his opinion
in the Littleton case by saying that he had followed the rule of law,
inferring that it was a clear cut legal decision.
Earlier this year in February, the 13th District Court of Appeals in Corpus
Christi issued a landmark opinion in favor of Houston trans widow Nikki
Araguz, ruling that Texas must recognize the marriages of trans people.
The ruling could have had an impact on Van De Putte's case had it come
In a posting by Monica Roberts on the TransGriot blog, Araguz responded
to the news of Van De Putte's death by saying, "Rest in peace Christie
Lee Littleton Van De Putte. I hope you knew your case had been overturned
and I will always remember you, as our lives are forever intermingled
Lee Van de Putte Dies
TransGriot, April 2, 2014
When I traveled to San Antonio for their TDOR last November, one of the
people I was hoping to see but didn't that evening was Christie Lee Van
Christie Lee Van De Putte
MySA.com, March 23, 2014
Christie Lee Van De Putte, born March 29, 1952, went into the loving arms
of the Lord on March 15, 2014, at the age of 61.