Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nikki Araguz - Inheritance Lawsuit filed Against Her

A woman named Nikki Araguz, who apparently lives in Wharton, Texas near Houston, is being sued by her late husband's ex-wife, Heather Delgado, and his mother, Simona Rodriguez Longoria, to prevent Nikki from collecting death/survivor benefits, life insurance benefits, and other proceeds from her late fireman husband's estate. His family is claiming that Nikki's marriage is void because she is a transsexual woman. The suit against Nikki Araguz by her husband's family is doubly vicious because they have accused her of civil fraud against her late husband, claiming that her late husband did not know she is a post-vaginoplasty transsexual woman. Mrs. Araguz states that her late husband, Thomas Araguz, knew that she is a transsexual woman and that she is horrified by his family's allegations and their lawsuit against  her (see video just below).

This sort of lawsuit must surely send a chill through the entire transsexual population. One of the new twists in this lawsuit is that the transsexual-woman is the defendant. These plaintiffs have also induced a new level of viciousness into their suit against this transsexual-woman, by claiming she committed fraud by marrying her late husband, in addition to mis-characterizing her marriage as "same sex", although that may be legally accurate in Texas where all transsexual women have been declared legally male by the Texas Court of Appeals as a result of the court's decision in the Littleton v. Prange case. The multiple levels of consequences caused by these sorts of lawsuits do so much damage that it is hard to list all the forms damage they create or calculate their potential magnitude.

As the defendant, she certainly can't be blamed for getting involved in a lawsuit in a jurisdiction where it seems likely to lose. It seems like her only chance might be to begin the lawsuit by claiming her husband's family doesn't have standing to sue, but they may. Even so, it seems like her late husband's former employer could also bring suit to refuse to provide the benefits to her.

One of this woman's alternatives might be to bring a motion to dismiss the suit because she has decided to turn down the survivor benefits. The reason it might be in her interest to file such a motion is because it would be a great disservice to the entire U.S. transsexual population for this suit to go forward, with the likely outcome being that it will create yet another appeals court precedent against the legal status of all transsexual people in America. The transsexual population in America doesn't need another such legal precedent against it.

The take away from this news, is that it seems like all transsexual-people who intend to get married should take the responsible and appropriate step of leaving Texas, Florida, or Kansas, if they live there; to get married in Massachusetts, and to live in Massachusetts as well if that is feasible for them. Another alternative is to simply forgo marriage, which seems relatively deprecated in modern American culture anyway. Given the current state of legal affairs, it just seems irresponsible for transsexual people who get married, to get married in or to live in states while married, where people know, or should know, that such states do not recognize their legal sex status or their marriages, and that their marriages will be declared void if they become an issue. There is no longer any excuse for pleading ignorance about these sorts of topics, since, if  nothing else, this sort of information ought to be part of the medical standards of care, and a prerequisite to getting a surgery recommendation letter for genital correction surgery.

Nikki Araguz could have avoided at least part of the hell that her life will become over the next few years, if she had simply moved to Massachusetts with her husband, married in Massachusetts , and stayed in Massachusetts, where her husband could just as well have been a fireman as he was in Texas. Yes, this amounts to blaming the victim somewhat, since these legal matters are, or should be, well known and common knowledge within the transsexual population, and there just isn't any excuse anymore for not knowing about them, and organizing one's life accordingly. Despite that judgment, one can only hope that Nikki Araguz and her attorneys miraculously find some way to prevail against the formidable odds they face.


  1. So, we should all just run in fear and hide from the mean legal people? We should never seek happiness and get married if we so choose? Instead of fighting back, we should just turn the other cheek?

    Sorry, we've been doing that FAR too long! Is it an uphill battle? Certainly, no one is denying that. Is it against insurmountable odds? Of course it is. It's Texas, after all. Some of the most inspiring battles in history were won by the underdog. All it takes is that straw that broke the camel's back! Texans have this little saying... "Remember the Alamo"? If I remember correctly, they were getting stomped by Santa Ana more times than I care to count. Yet, that one battle at the Alamo changed the tide of the war for, then, the Texas Republic. Everybody seems to forget that, though... weird.

    We need to tell these people like Heather Delgado and her former mother-in-law that we're not taking their crap any longer! We're not throwing in the towel! We're coming in for another left hook! Stand by and support Nikki in every way you can. She tragically lost the man she loves in the line of duty, after all.

  2. If you read all the posts on this site you will find a lot of support for Nikki Araguz. However, being realistic and objective about the nature and difficulty of a legal battle like this seems like it is an essential aspect of trying to report and comment on it responsibly.

    I hope Nikki Araguz does win, despite extremely difficult odds. However, everyone observing this case is going to have to be patient, since it will be years before this case is over, especially if it goes to appeals courts. When it is all finished, the attorneys will have likely taken most of the money as well, so for Nikki the battle really has to be a larger one regarding civil rights.

    With today's federal court decision on marriage in California, it seems possible that both cases might wind their way through appeals courts at the same time. It seems likely that the first level of federal appeals courts in California will uphold today's decision. But the SCOTUS present a more difficult challenge. However, in the end, a positive SCOTUS ruling on marriage rights could remove the need to scapegoat women like Nikki Araguz./