Jessica and Robin Wicks

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United States case law is inconsistent in its treatment of married couples where one of the spouses is transgender. In 1999 the state of Texas ruled that the gender listed on a resident’s birth certificate was definitive. The case, Littleton v. Prange, which voided a marriage between a cisgender man and a transgender woman, had the unintended consequence of validating same-sex marriages in which one of the partners is transgender. Jessica and Robin Wicks were the first couple to publicly take advantage of this loophole and were married in 2000. They were denied a license in their home county but, after seeking legal advice, were granted one in the county where Littleton was decided. Although driven primarily by affection for each other, they were fully cognizant of the precedent they were setting (although a lesbian couple in Vermont may have preceded them by a short period of time).

Their attorney, Phyllis Frye, was herself a trans woman and the attorney for Littleton in the precedent-setting case; part of her stated motivation for assisting the Wicks was to draw attention to the Littleton case’s contradictions and open an equal protection argument. Other cases drawing on Littleton and the Wicks have since arisen.

 

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