Trans widow fights for firefighter husband’s benefits

A Texas transgender widow is suing after she was denied husband's benefits because she was registered as male at birth

Trans widow fights for firefighter husband’s benefits
01 May 2012

A firefighter's transgender widow from Texas is suing for the benefits that she was denied because she was registered as male at birth.

Despite legally changing her name and undergoing sexual reassignment surgery in 1996, 36-year-old Nikki Araguz was denied the workers' compensation which she claims was owed to her after her firefighter husband Thomas was killed in action 2010.

Now Mrs Araguz has filed a law suit against the City of Wharton.

In a separate suit brought on by Thomas's parents, a judge voided Araguz’s marriage in 2011 and denied her death benefits because the state of Texas does not recognize same-sex marriages.

However, Mrs Araguz, who is now a transgender activist living in Houston, has vowed to continue her battle for the sake of others like her.

'As difficult as this has been for me in my grief, I cannot in good conscience allow someone else to go through this again,' she told ABC news.

She added: 'I can’t imagine being known as the woman who walked away from this.'

Her attorney, Peggy Campbell, has denied her case is about gay marriage.

'All of the courts keep saying they don’t allow gay marriage,' she said.

'Our position is that this is not a gay marriage issue. It’s a man being married to a woman.'

Campbell claims Mrs Araguz is entitled to weekly benefits for the rest of her life or 104 weeks in a lump sum if she remarries.

An attorney for the City of Wharton declined to comment.

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