Texas Firefighter's Transsexual Widow Testifies


The transsexual widow of a Wharton firefighter killed in the line of duty was questioned under oath for the first time Thursday.

Nikki Araguz is fighting to receive benefits, but several attorneys representing late firefighter Thomas Araguz's estate, his mother and his previous wife said the marriage was not legal.

Attorneys conducted a deposition and got their first chance to talk with Nikki Araguz face to face about what they call inconsistencies in her story.

"I think she did the best to explain those inconsistencies, but I don't think she did a very good job," said Chad Ellis, who represents Thomas Araguz's mother.

Nikkie Araguz brought her reissued state of California birth certificate to the deposition. It lists her sex as female. She said it is the current record and the only one that should be considered.

She had sexual reassignment surgery in 2008.

Opposing attorneys said they have Nikki Araguz's original birth certificate that lists her as a male. They said the marriage between Nikki and Thomas Araguz was a violation of the Texas constitution.

The attorney representing Thomas Araguz's children said the bottom line in this case is clear.

"That is you're born a man you stay a man, or you have the right to change your gender legally from man to woman," said Edward Burwell the attorney representing Thomas Araguz's two sons.

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

On May 13, a judge is expected to decide if Nikki Araguz's case will go to trial.

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