HOUSTON, Texas (July 22, 2010) – We, the attendees of the Second Annual Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit, issue this statement to demonstrate our support for Mrs. Nikki Araguz and to call attention to her plight and that of all transgender people in the state of Texas.
Mrs. Nikki Araguz legally married a man, and her marriage has been recognized under the laws of the state of Texas. Nikki’s husband, a fireman in Wharton County, tragically was killed in the line of duty, and now other parties are attempting to use the courts to have her marriage legally overturned in an effort to deny her inheritance and insurance.
These parties are claiming that Nikki is not legally a woman under Texas law. Nikki’s opponents are attempting to use an obscure Texas case, Littleton v. Prange (1999), to declare that her marriage should be invalid. The Littleton case says that a person’s gender is determined by chromosomes, not physical attributes. The Littleton case was decided to deny a transgender woman her right to bring a wrongful death suit on behalf of her husband – even though Littleton had legally changed her gender and had been legally married in Texas.
The Littleton case was wrongfully decided at the time, and if taken literally stands for the proposition that a transgender person cannot marry anyone, of either gender, under Texas law. Clearly, this is wrong. Denying anyone the right to marry whom they love is a violation of the most basic freedoms under our laws. To deny the validity of an existing, legal marriage, after one of the spouses has died, as justification for the redistribution of inheritance and insurance, is abhorrent to the values of common decency, fair play, and justice that most Texans hold dear.
We, the attendees of this Summit, extend our heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Araguz, and call for the swift dismissal of this lawsuit so that Mrs. Araguz may be left to mourn her loss in private without distraction or worry for her financial stability.
If necessary, we also call for the courts to consider the Littleton case superseded by the recent changes to the Texas Family Code that recognize a court ordered gender change as definitive proof of identity.
Sadly, discrimination against people because of either their gender identity or expression is common. There are few laws in the state of Texas to address this need. The purpose of our Summit is to find ways to help people confront and overcome the issues now facing all transgender people in Texas and, tragically, Mrs. Nikki Araguz.
|Equality Across America – Houston||Equality Texas||GALA of San Antonio College|
|Houston GLBT Community Center||National Trans Advocacy Coalition||Out Students & Allies, Houston Community College|
|San Antonio Gender Association||Texas Gender Advocacy & Information Network||Transgender Education Network of Texas|
|Transgender Foundation of America||Alica Palmer, Outspoken||Amanda Benton, President, GALA of San Antonio College|
|Ambalika Williams||Arielle Heidbrink, VP, GALA of San Antonio College||Beverly McPhail|
|Boyd R. Beckwith||Brian Riedel||Carla Mencias|
|Carlos Soto, Direct Action Network of San Antonio||Champagne Henry, GALA of San Antonio College||Chrystie Ayala-Quintero|
|Clay Dippel||Cristan Williams||Daniel Williams|
|David Michal Noriega||Debra Webster||Elizabeth N. Rhyne|
|Georges Zemanek||Ginger Yachinich||Guillermo de los Reyes|
|Hana Pinard||Issac Brown, Direct Action Network of San Antonio||Jason Brunelle|
|Jennifer Tyburczy||Jimmy Pena||Josephine Tittsworth, CoChair, Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit|
|Josh Cory||Julie Smith||Kareem Jones|
|Katy Stewart||Kevin Abrams, GALA of San Antonio College||LaKeia Spady, President, Out Students & Allies, Houston Community College|
|Lauryn Farris, Minister of Church Life, Metropolitan Community Church of San Antonio||Lorraine Schroeder||Lou Weaver|
|Lowell Kane||Margaret A. Gibson||Maria C. Gonzalez|
|Monica Roberts||Nicole Lamb||Randall Terrell|
|Rev. Mick Hinson, Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of San Antonio||Richard Anthony Leyba, GALA of San Antonio College||Shane Whalley|
|Tiffany Bishop||Vanessa Edwards Foster||William Barksdale|