TEXAS: Judge Rules No Death Benefits For Trans Widow Of Firefighter
A Texas judge has ruled that the trans widow of a firefighter killed in the line of duty is not eligible for his death benefits.
Ever since Thomas Araguz died fighting a fire at an egg farm last year, his family has been battling his widow, Nikki Araguz, over $600,000 in death benefits. The firefighter’s family argued that, since Nikki Araguz was born a man, her marriage to Thomas Araguz –under Texas law – was not valid. The family said the death benefits should go to Thomas Araguz’s two children with his first wife. But Nikki Araguz has maintained that Thomas Araguz knew about her past as a man, and that their marriage was legal. Nikki Araguz had sexual reassignment surgery after the marriage. The couple was estranged at the time of Thomas Araguz’s death. On Tuesday, Judge Randy Clapp said that because Nikki Araguz was born a man, Thomas Araguz was not married on the day he died, and any marriage – formal or informal – is void.The decision is expected to be appealed.