WHARTON, Texas – The transgender widow of a Wharton firefighter killed in the line of duty has filed a motion for a new trial in her battle for her late husband’s death benefits.
Judge Randy Clapp on May 24 declared that Nikki Araguz’s marriage to Thomas Araguz was not valid, because Nikki Araguz was born a man, and therefore she wasn’t eligible for any of the firefighter’s $600,000 in death benefits.
A hearing is set for July 6.
Nikki Araguz has maintained that Thomas Araguz knew about her past as a man, and that their marriage was legal.
She had sexual reassignment surgery after the marriage. The couple was estranged at the time of Thomas Araguz’s death.
"I continually have to fight for the respect, desire and acknowledgement of both mine and my firefighter husband’s choice to recognize one another as husband and wife. The irony of my husband’s passing on Independence Day and his choice of whom to love and marry being challenged in the wake of his death is saddening and shameful. " Araguz said.
Despite the ruling against her last month, Araguz said the case is "not over by any stretch of the imagination."
She’s been fighting her late husband’s family over the benefits since his death in an egg farm fire last year. The family says the money should go to Thomas Araguz’s two children he had with his first wife.
Nikki Araguz is currently negotiating a book and movie deal and reportedly has a reality show in the works.
She most recently appeared on court on June 2, when she went before a Harris County judge on an unrelated theft charge.
Araguz is accused of stealing an acquaintance’s Rolex watch.