Fallen firefighter's widow speaks out

July 22, 2010 4:21:37 PM PDT
It's the story that has a lot of people talking. The widow of a firefighter killed in the line of duty says she was still a man at the time of her marriage. And on Thursday afternoon, we heard from Nikki Araguz and her lawyers at a news conference in southwest Houston. At the news conference, Araguz issued a public statement.

"All I have to say is I'm absolutely devastated about the loss of my husband, a fallen firefighter, Captain Thomas Araguz, III, and horrified at the horrendous allegations, accusing me of fraud because they're absolutely not true," she said. "That's all I have to say."

A minute later, she left the room in tears.

Nearly three weeks ago, she became a widow when her volunteer firefighter husband of two years died fighting a fire at a Wharton egg warehouse. A week later, she was served with papers. Her former mother-in-law and Araguz's ex-wife both claim the marriage was a sham because Nikki Araguz is transgender, born male in California.

Two months after the marriage, she says she had a medical procedure. The question is whether the marriage was valid because of the gender issues.

On Friday, there will be a court hearing on the case in Wharton and it could be precedent-setting. Texas has only one similar transgender case on record and it did not go well for the transgender client.

Phyllis Frye, the self-described grandmother of the transgender legal movement, served as counsel on that case and will on this one. Times are different, she says.

"There have been a lot of changes in the law since 2000," she said.

Right now, Araguz is said to be living on donations because all of the financial assets in the couple's accounts have been frozen by the courts.


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