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Texas Transgender Widow Appeals Benefits Decision

Texas Transgender Widow Appeals Benefits Decision

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Nikki Araguz, the transgender widow of a Texas firefighter, is appealing a judge's decision that found their marriage invalid and denied her his death benefits.

Araguz was in court Monday in Wharton to appeal Judge Randy Clapp's May decision that her marriage to Wharton County fire captain Thomas Araguz was not valid because Nikki was born biologically male, Houston TV station KHOU reports. Nikki, who had long identified as female and lived as a woman for some time before their marriage, underwent gender-reassignment surgery afterward, and she says their union was legal. He died last year while fighting a fire.

Thomas Araguz's family says his death benefits -- $600,000 -- should go to the two children he had with his previous wife, instead of a share going to Nikki. The appeals process in the case could go on for another year, attorneys said.

The case stands to have wide-ranging implications for gender-variant individuals. For a profile of Nikki Araguz by The Advocate's sister publication Out, click here.

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