- EM = Ernie Manouse
- NA = Nikki Araguz
The complete interview transcript:
EM - Nikki Araguz joins us now, and first off before we begin, our sympathy goes out to you in the loss of your husband, we are very sorry about that.
NA - Thank you.
EM - We’re also very concerned how when somebody losses someone to suddenly be thrown into the media spotlight, and we hope that we don’t add to your stress in this conversation. And, as we have said and will continue to throughout the show, we are not here to re-try the case, we are here to understand your story, and hear where you came from.
EM - I guess my first question is, you consider yourself to be a woman, end of story.
NA - Yes. Right.
EM - People out there are assuming and confused by the difference between transgendered, intersex, what is the classification you find yourself in, how do you define who Nikki is.
NA - I simply am a heterosexual woman. That’s how I define myself. I’m not a medical professional, but I know that I have been diagnosed with partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, and that falls under a classification medically as a transgender syndrome.
EM - And folks have a problem getting past the idea, and they assume that when we talk in these that it is someone who was a male, born a male, grew up as a male, somehow felt they weren’t a male, so they had sexual reassignment surgery. That is a different condition than what you went through, correct?
NA - Completely, completely, I, in my growing up, even in my early years, my parents started to notice that I was not developing into a boy, umm, that I was developing into a girl, and sought medical professionals, umm, late 70s early 80s, nobody knew what was going on. And so umm, they just allowed me to continue to develop into the woman I am today.
EM - A lot of people ask the question, they are trying to figure out, if your husband knew, when he knew, outside of all that, because that’s, court is deciding all that, and you know your story of it, I’m curious how you breach the subject with someone when you meet them. When you are developing an intimate relationship with someone, how this topic comes up and how do you explain it?
NA - You know, that is something that I had to learn. As a teenager I broached it with fear, and anxiety, and umm, a lot of denial and hiding it. Not fully understanding where I was and also just being an immature teenager, not knowing how to answer those types of questions. But when I reached a certain point at nineteen, and realized that you know honesty up front about this medical condition, and the aspects of my life, needed to be spoken upfront, and honestly with whomever I was going to have a any sort of intimate relationship, whether it be a close friend, or someone who I was going to be involved with intimately.
EM - The reactions you saw, surprised you, what you expected, not what you expected?
NA - I actually was umm, it was generally always was just accepted, and, you know, umm, and the response was more of a “so what”, you know, I umm, my, much like my husband responded, you know, “I love you anyway”.
EM - I think people watching would say how? The concept is so foreign to a lot of folks that if their spouse were to tell them, “You know, I used to be something different than I was”, they would be caught off guard.
NA - But see, I don’t think I was ever something different than what I am. I may have been identified by one little letter as something different than, other than the female that I am now, but there was no difference in my personality and in my attitude and in the way I communicate, umm.
EM - I think that was the point I was trying to get at, is that when you are in a relationship with someone, there is so much more than just the perceived physical, that there is the person you know, so when things like this come out I think in a lot of situations people figure out a way to deal with what they are confronted with as opposed to being fearful or scared, you are still the person you were two minutes ago before you said that.
NA - Right. Exactly. Exactly. And that’s what Thomas’s heart was compassionate and loving, he, that’s the relationship we had.
EM - How did you two meet?
NA - We met at church.
EM - And the reaction, love at first sight, what happened, not love at first sight?
NA - It was definitely attraction at first sight. And umm, thank you, I love sharing that memory. A month a go was the umm anniversary of his death, and I umm, sorry, I, I miss him greatly. We spent, on our way out of church, we said hello to each other on our way in, and on our way out he invited me to eat breakfast, and we went and spent three hours talking and what turned into laughter and you know and just the terrific development of our relationship.
ME - A lot of people surprised by the attention this is getting. I’m sure you are at the top of the list of who you are. You ran for Mayor of your town.
NA - I did.
ME - Which makes me think that there wasn’t a part of you hiding or shut away. Did you expect during the Mayoral race that this would all come out?
NA - Honestly, we lived such a quiet, private, little life. I mean I published a magazine. I was very well known in our community. I, umm, I participated a lot in community events and activities, and I embraced the community of Wharton, and loved it so much that I wanted to help it. That is why I started the company I did. And um, and that’s why I, you know, supported my husband through that, and through going to school to be the firefighter, police officer, EMT, that he came to be during our marriage.
EM - But at no time did you think, “I’m running for Mayor, people are going to find out this secret”. (air quotes with fingers).
NA - I guess I never really though of it as a secret but I guess I had put a part of my past behind me, because after my surgery I really didn’t think about it anymore, because it was the birth defect that had been removed and it was just like gone.
ME - And again I want to clarify for our audience, when you say it was the birth defect we are not talking about a fully developed all male individual going and having a sexual reassignment surgery.
NA - That would not be at all an accurate description of what happened for me, umm, because I was an underdeveloped, umm, and not past the age of two or three years old did I develop anatomically, genitalia.
ME - A lot with this story is being morphed into gay marriage now, and they are talking about ramifications from that. How do you view your marriage?
NA - I view marriage as, as any loving commitment between two people, period. And I am not trying to be a platform for anyone, except for my own marriage at this point. Whatever comes as a result of that in helping anybody else, helping anybody else be able to have equal civil liberties, then, so be it.
ME - How does the poster child term feel to you?
NA - I don’t like that. I realize that is probably where I am at, umm, but I don’t necessarily, that is not what I signed up for. I, I was a housewife and you know ran a magazine, and loved my husband and my children, and rode my horse. This was my life prior to my husband’s death, and um, with the lawsuit that was brought on, I was thrust into the media.
ME - Being put into the spotlight that you have, I’m sure that you get both sides of the spectrum reacting to you. How do you weather through that?
NA - Honestly, I, it is very difficult. I, I’m still grieving the loss of my husband and it is preventing me from doing that in a lot of ways, it’s um, but I weather through it because I believe so strongly in my marriage and in the love that Thomas and I shared that I am not going to stop fighting for the truth and the equality.
ME - We thank you so much for taking the time to come in and share your story with us, helping our audience understand a little bit more what’s going on, and again our sympathy for the loss of your husband.
NA - Thank you.
ME - Nikki Araguz, thank you.
NA - Thanks.
(end of interview with Nikki Araguz)