This is one of those stories that not only explains precisely why we need equal protections on the Federal level, but it is also one of those stories that many of our friends, relatives and co-workers wouldn’t believe if they heard it.
Texas firefighter Thomas Araguz died on July 3rd, 2010 while fighting a fire on an egg farm in Boling, Texas. His wife, a transgender woman named Nikki Araguz – who changed her name legally in 1996, was devastated. Nikki was out of town when it happened and sadly, not one person in her husband’s family called Nikki to tell her of the tragedy. She learned about her own husband’s death from a posting on a social networking site. When she arrived home, she was treated like a stranger by her husband’s family, blocked from seeing her stepchildren and outcast from what she thought was a loving relationship with her husband’s family.
The day after her husband’s funeral, Nikki learned that there were two separate lawsuits filed against her in attempts to stop her from receiving the benefits a firefighter’s spouse usually receives. Her husband mentioned her in one instance, by name as the beneficiary should anything happen to him. This ensured that she and his two children would be taken care of. Still, Thomas’ mother and ex-wife filed these suits to grab at the money due to Nikki.
The most disgusting part of this whole situation is that the primary argument being used against Nikki is that her marriage should be voided because she was born a man. And a Houston judge is about to do just that. So on top of all the other challenges a transgender woman faces each day in a place like Texas, on top of losing her husband and a family with whom she thought she had a loving and supportive relationship, on top of losing funds which are rightfully due to her following her husband’s death, these shameful bigots are now going to void the marriage she had with Thomas.
Thomas’ ex-wife, Heather Delgado, his mother and the judges who are allowing this horrendous miscarriage of justice – District Judge Randy Clapp and Delgado’s lawyer, Edward Burwell should ALL be ashamed of themselves. This kind of hateful odious treatment of another human being should be reviled. Our thoughts are with Nikki at this tremendously difficult time.