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Nikki Araguz’s legal representative did not return requests for comment to The Washington Times. But Phyllis Randolph Frye, a transgendered lawyer who is representing Nikki Araguz, told the Houston Chronicle that she hopes this dispute will overturn Texas’ definition of gender as fixed at birth.

“If the legal chips go where I hope they go, I hope that we can get Littleton overturned or rendered toothless,” she said.

Mr. Ellis, however, contends that Capt. Araguz didn’t know about Nikki Araguz’s former identity as a male until an April 28 deposition set up by Mrs. Delgado, the mother of their children.

Nikki Araguz’s past was brought to light during an unsuccessful run for mayor of Wharton, Texas, and Mrs. Delgado then brought it to the court’s attention in a dispute with her ex-husband over custody of their children. Nikki Araguz was on probation at the time for drug possession, a fact also mentioned in the custody dispute.

In court, Capt. Araguz clearly stated multiple times that he had no knowledge of his wife’s previous identity as a male. At that time, Nikki Araguz’s birth certificate also became public.

Nikki Araguz has “a rap sheet about half a mile long,” Mr. Ellis said. “We’re dealing with someone who has conned people all of her life.”

Ms. Haagenson said court testimony was unreliable.

“They both lied in the deposition, and they felt like that was the thing to do to protect his having custody of the children,” she said, adding that the e-mails clearly demonstrate that Mr. Araguz not only knew about his wife’s gender identification, but went to doctor consultations with her.

According to court documents, Nikki Araguz was born Justin Graham Purdue and changed names to Nikki Purdue in February 1996.

In the documentation presented in 1996 when Justin Graham Purdue became Nikki Purdue, she said, “I, Justin Purdue, am a woman with male anatomy, working toward a sex change. I have been living and working as a woman for over one year and seek to make my new name legal and permanent.”

Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, expressed sympathy for Nikki Araguz.

“It is our hope that Nikki’s relationship is recognized, and our heart goes out to her for the loss of her husband,” he said.

Shannon Price Minter, legal director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the national push for gay marriage has unintentionally hurt transgendered people and resulted in cases like this.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that, perhaps because of the visibility of lesbian and gay couples seeking marriage, that transgendered people have been caught up in that frame and have been hurt by that and have actually, in some respects, are more vulnerable now than they have been in the past,” he said. “I think it’s really only in the past few years that we see pretty ugly cases like this coming up because people are, I think, exploiting homophobia.”

But Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis at the American Family Association, called the whole dispute ridiculous, but unsurprising, given the culture’s confusion about sex, as also shown in debates over gay marriage and homosexuality.

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