Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nikki Araguz - press conference after the show cause hearing Friday July 23, 2010

Here is the press conference that was given by Nikki Araguz and her attorneys, including Phyllis Frye, on Friday July 23, 2010, outside the county courthouse in Wharton, TX.

Nikki Araguz - Temporary Restraining Order - Show Cause Hearing Friday July 23, 2010

Apparently things were so ugly for Nikki Araguz as she arrived at the courthouse on Friday July 23, 2010, that she was greeted by a jeering crowd and with threats against her life as she entered the Wharton County Courthouse in Wharton, Texas. The judge in the case apparently ruled against Araguz and issued a temporary restraining order that places all her marital assets, bank accounts, real property, life insurance proceeds from her husband's estate, $600,000 in fireman's death benefits from her husband's estate as well, into escrow, freezing all her assets pending the outcome of the case. Fortunately, the court also ruled that her late husband's family cannot access, use, or spend the proceeds either, until the final outcome of the case has been determined by the court, subsequent to a trial of summary judgment proceeding. Some news accounts imply that Nikki Araguz's bank accounts have even been frozen and that she may have been evicted from the house she may have owned with her husband.

Nikki Araguz apparently also testified at the court hearing. In response family members of her late husband accused her of being a liar and a fraud. If that were true, where were those family members during the two years she was married?

Based on today's news accounts, the viciousness seemed extreme, which seems to be the case in nearly all such proceedings when a ts-person is involved. In this case the court proceedings may have even made it nearly impossible for her to even litigate what is likely to be losing case anyway.

While I empathize with the hell that Nikki Araguz is going through, it seems like every ts-woman should know by now that it is simply impossible to get married in Texas to a male person, and to live in Texas while married to a male person, and expect anything else to occur. The result of the Littleton v. Prange case has pretty much made it settled law in Texas that Araguz does not stand a chance, and she seems likely to be stripped of everything she owns and likely left unable to even wage a court battle for her financial survival. Her attorneys are soliciting donations.

I hope this serves as a cautionary tale for any ts-woman currently living in Texas, that it was time to leave that state a long time ago. Texas seems like a hostile and probably even life threatening environment for ts-people. If you are a ts-woman and you live in Texas, I hope you will get out before it is too late for you too. One article characterized the the proceedings in the following manner:
Houston, Texas – July 23, 2010 – Jeers and public threats greeted Mrs. Nikki Araguz outside the Warton County Courthouse today. The Widow of Wharton County firefighter Captain Thomas Araguz, who was killed in the line of duty, was in court for the first hearing in a suit brought by Araguz’s mother, Simona Rodriguez Longoria. The suit claims that Longoria should inherit Capt. Araguz’s widow’s benefits and all marital assets.

Longoria claims that since Mrs. Araguz was legally a male before transitioning to female, and legally changed her gender prior to her subsequent marriage to Capt. Araguz that Longoria, not Mrs. Araguz, should receive all benefits and joint property. This includes any income earned by Mrs. Araguz during the marriage. Mrs. Araguz was the principle wage earner of the couple.

Capt. Araguz’s two children from a previous marriage will receive one half of Capt. Araguz’s $600,000 firemen’s fallen hero benefit regardless of the outcome of this case. They are also entitled to free tuition at Texas State Schools, as will be their children.

Longoria today expanded her claims to the property of Mrs. Araguz, asking the court to seize funds paid by a life insurance policy to which Mrs. Araguz was the named beneficiary. Judge Clapp granted her request, adding those funds to the widow’s benefits and all marital assets currently being held in escrow.

In a victory for Mrs. Araguz, the Judge also prevented Longoria from spending any of those funds or disposing of Capt. and Mrs. Araguz’s marital assets.

Longoria said in court today that her goal was to “freeze Nikki out.” All of Mrs. Araguz’s assets are currently frozen and unavailable to her.

The associated press shared the perspective and comments of Chad Ellis, attorney for Simona Longoria, mother of Thomas Araguz, the late husband of Nikki Araguz:
Chad Ellis (attorney for mom of late husband) said his client's efforts to void the marriage are supported by Texas law, specifically a 1999 appeals court ruling that stated chromosomes, not genitals, determine gender.

The ruling upheld a lower court's decision that threw out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a San Antonio woman, Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, after her husband's death. The court said that although Littleton had undergone a sex-change operation, she was actually a man, based on her original birth certificate, and therefore her marriage, as well as her wrongful death claim, was invalid.

"The law is clear, you are what you are born as," Ellis said.

While Phyllis Frye, one of Nikki Araguz's attorneys, declined to comment on what role the 1999 appellate ruling will play in her client's case, she said the decision "wrecked a lot of lives."

In April, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office was asked to give a legal opinion in a separate case on an issue connected to the 1999 ruling.

El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal asked for an opinion on whether the county clerk's office could issue a marriage license to two West Texas women if one of the women, who had previously undergone a sex change, presented a birth certificate that identified her as being born a man.

The West Texas couple didn't wait and went to San Antonio, where Bexar County officials granted them a marriage license, saying they relied on the 1999 ruling. Bexar County has previously issued marriage licenses in similar

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.