The transgender widow at the center of a court battle focusing on her late firefighter husband's estate apologized Tuesday for her appearance on a tabloid talk show 15 years ago during which she surprised a man who once kissed her with the news that she was born a boy.
Nikki Araguz, 35, expressed deep regret for not telling the man the truth about her gender history upfront and for surprising him with the news during her appearance on the Jerry Springer TV show on Feb. 13, 1995, calling it a mistake she made as an inexperienced teenager. She confirmed her appearance on the show after being questioned by the Chronicle.
"It was a horrible experience for everyone involved," Araguz said Tuesday of the TV show. Of the man who appeared on the program with her, she said, "I need to publicly apologize to him for any embarrassment or any situation I put him in. I am truly sorry for any problems and pain that it caused him then. ... It was something I felt terrible about for a long time."
The man who appeared on the Jerry Springer show with Nikki Araguz in 1995 spoke to the Chronicle only on the condition that his name not be published because he said the embarrassment could hurt his employment.
Now 39 and living in Beaumont, he said he was upset by Nikki Araguz's deception 15 years ago and speaking now only out of concern for the late firefighter's children.
The man said he was a 24-year-old University of Texas student in Austin when he came to Houston for a rock concert in November 1994. After the show, he met Nikki Araguz by chance while she was dining at a Houston restaurant.
He said they visited for several hours, kissed and exchanged phone numbers but never had sexual contact.
The man said he had no communication with her until the Jerry Springer show called him two months later, asking him to appear on the TV show in Chicago to hear some news from a woman from his past. He said the show's staff refused to identify the woman.
"I was a poor student back then," he recalled Tuesday. "I thought, 'Chicago, cool.' They flew me in."
While he was on the show, Nikki Araguz appeared and told him she was born a boy. Her demeanor "was almost like tongue in cheek, not remorseful," he recalled.
The man said he kept his cool but chastised Nikki Araguz on camera for being deceitful. The two of them never had contact again.
(source of three quotes above)
Araguz, who was 19 at the time of the incident and received $500 for her appearance on the TV show, called it a mistake.
"Just me being deceptive, appearing at all deceptive, was wrong," she said Tuesday. "It was a big lesson to be honest and upfront."
She said that error does not reflect how she has lived her life since then, insisting she was honest with her first husband of 11 years, whom she later divorced, and made full disclosure about her gender history to Thomas Araguz as well.
"Upfront honesty is the best policy," she said Tuesday. "I never ever did anything like that again. That's not my current character or moral standard."
Araguz said she appeared on four other TV talk shows — two more episodes of Jerry Springer, once on Maury Povich and once on Sally Jessy Raphael — in 1994 and 1995, all focusing on gender issues. Her mother appeared with her on two of the shows.
"I haven't hidden my gender from anybody — hello, I was on five national talk shows. I was not hiding it at all. ... Just because nobody else knew doesn't mean my husband and our close friends did not know."
It is just amazing to me that the attorneys for Nikki Araguz have allowed her to keeping talking to the news media. It seems like every other sentence she utters hurts her position in the lawsuits against her more and more. In addition, her own admissions and disclosures about herself compound the inconsistencies in her various statements.
This most recent newspaper article also clarifies that the date of Nikki Araguz's previously reported "operation" was October 2008, months after her August 2008 marriage to Thomas Araguz. Although such things have happened before, it seems difficult that anyone could claim Thomas Araguz wasn't aware of the configuration of Nikki Araguz's genitalia during that time, what ever their configuration was then, and however her physical morphology changed before and after whatever physical changes that October 2008 "operation" accomplished.