Transgender Widow Forced to Fight for Benefits

After Texas firefighter Thomas Araguz III died battling a fire, a new battle began. His transgender wife Nikki Araguz is being forced to fight his family in order to get any of his death benefits.

Thomas’ family wants to keep his wife from receiving any of his benefits. His mother, Simona Rodriguez Longoria, claims that her son’s marriage was invalid because Nikki was born a man and Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. Messed up, but perhaps true — it’s the same law that gave two women marriage recognition because one was transgender. A 1999 ruling says that trangender people who change their gender still remain legally tied to their biological sex.

Unfortunately, Nikki isn’t only battling against Thomas’ mom, but also his first wife, Heather Delgado, who is the biological mother of his two children. Thomas’ family wants all of his benefits to go to his two children.

But as if that isn’t enough of an insult to Thomas and Nikki’s two year marriage, Thomas’ mom is claiming that Thomas didn’t know she was transgender until after they married. Reports of the story vary wildly on their take of whether or not Thomas knew she was transgender, some claiming that they separated after he was informed that she was transgender, in April.

Nikki says that he was well aware that she was transgender and that her non-fully formed male genitalia were removed after their wedding. During a custody battle with his first wife, Nikki admitted that in court that she was working toward getting a sex change operation and that she had been living as a woman for over a year.

Despite the court testimony that was backed up by Thomas, his mom still insists that Thomas didn’t know that Nikki was transgender until she admitted it in court. She said that the couple lied under oath in order to help with child custody arrangements.

Thomas’ mom’s claims aren’t adding up. If Thomas didn’t know that his wife was transgender, wouldn’t he be in shock when he found out in court? Yet, he was immediately able to accept it and lie about knowing she was transgender for a year in order to help with custody agreements? But despite lying about it in court, he was deceived by her? But didn’t go about filing a divorce?

Sounds to me more like Thomas knew that Nikki was transgender but his mom was unwilling to accept that her son was with a transgender woman.

Why is Thomas’ mom claiming her own son’s marriage invalid, despite the fact that he obviously chose to remain married to Nikki? Is it really any of her business?

As Thomas’ wife, Nikki deserves some of his death benefits. The history of her genitals should be irrelevant. They were legally married, so it’s ridiculous for her to not get the legal benefits of any other wife.

Photo credit: AMagill