The story of transgender Nikki Araguz, the widow of a Wharton firefighter killed in the line of duty, has drawn attention to people all over Harris County and family law attorneys across the country. The parents of the deceased firefighter are trying to annul his marriage with Nikki Araguz even after his death so that the widow won't get his $500,000 in death benefits.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Nikki Araguz was born a male, but had a court order to undergo gender surgery after being diagnosed with a genetic disorder that kept her from growing into a fully developed man. The family of Wharton firefighter Thomas Araguz III claims that their son never knew of his wife's sex change, which are grounds for an annulment.
Yet Texas family law attorneys representing Nikki Araguz are presenting evidence that her husband did know of Nikki Araguz's entire gender history. Lawyers claim that the marriage between the couple is valid due to a new provision in the Texas Family Code that took effect last year, which allows a person to present a court order relating to a sex change to obtain a marriage license. The evidence includes the release of an e-mail exchange between the couple on the date of the genital reassignment surgery, where the firefighter allegedly indicated that he knew of the operation.
The Transgender Foundation of America also released a statement that said Thomas Araguz accompanied Nikki to her appointments at the Houston transgender clinic and that she had witnessed Nikki ask questions about the genital reconstructive surgery in front of her husband.