Thomas Araguz III, a Texas firefighter who died battling a blaze on an egg farm, leaves behind more than just mourners: His transgender wife Nikki Araguz of almost two years is now battling his family, which wants to keep her from getting any of his (likely substantial) death benefits.
With the usual scorn so often levied against trans people, Thomas’ mother Simona Rodriguez Longoria says her son’s marriage to Nikki is invalid because she was born a man, and Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, blah blah. Eight days after Thomas died, on July 4, his family filed suit against Nikki, claiming further Thomas didn’t even know she was trans until after they married; Nikki says he was well aware she was born Justin Graham Purdue, and her non-fully formed male genitalia were removed in an operation after their wedding day. (That she might be intersex and not trans throws a whole other wrench into this charade.)
Not helping things: Thomas’ first wife Heather Delgado, and biological mother to his two children, is aiding the family in the battle against Nikki — who ordinarily would receive Thomas’ benefits along with his children. The family’s attorney cites a 1999 law that says even trans people who change their gender remain, under the law, tied to their biological sex. And of course there are the claims Nikki — THE SCARY TRANSGENDER WOMAN — “deceived” Thomas.
While Nikki and her late husband’s family head back to court on Friday, a judge granted a temporary emergency restraining order barring Nikki from spending any funds tied to Thomas or even removing any property from their shared home.
In the end, nobody wins.