Texas Transsexual Widow Denied Death Benefits

HOUSTON --

The transsexual widow of a Wharton firefighter killed in the line of duty will not receive his death benefits, a judge announced Tuesday.

Thomas Araguz, a firefighter with the Wharton County Volunteer Fire Department, died fighting a fire at Maxim Egg Farm in Boling, Texas, in July 2010.

Araguz's family and ex-wife sued his widow, Nikki, in an effort to prevent her from receiving about $600,000 worth of death benefits. They argued the marriage was not valid because Nikki Araguz was born a man.

A judge ruled Tuesday that Nikki and Thomas Araguz were not married at the time of his death, so the estate will go to Thomas Araguz's two sons.

Nikki Araguz confirmed she's "a post-op transsexual" and is HIV-positive. She had sexual reassignment surgery in 2008.

Both sides had said they would appeal if they lost.

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