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Texas appeal decided in favor of firefighter's transgender widow

A landmark case for the state of Texas just went through the appeals process and was decided in favor of a transgender woman who lost her husband. He was a firefighter and a fatal accident near Houston, Texas, took his life while he was fighting a blaze a few years ago. When it originally happened, the courts ruled that the woman would not be entitled to his estate, which was then valued at around $600,000, because the Texas state laws did not recognize their marriage.

The problem was that same-sex marriages were not legal in Texas, and that is what the courts considered their marriage, despite the fact that the woman had had surgery in the past and identified herself as a woman. Under Texas law, she was still viewed as a man. Therefore, she was not given the same rights as a widow when her husband was taken from her and the state sought to seize her husband's estate, rather than passing it on to her.

She has been fighting the decision ever since, even though she has gotten remarried, trying to get what she believes is rightfully hers. She does not think that she should be denied any rights that would be given to any other woman in the same situation. The case has gotten a lot of attention because the firefighter died in the line of duty, protecting others, so people have felt that the ruling in this regard has been unjust for his widow, especially when taking his sacrifice into account.

The woman has now won her appeal, with the court saying that the initial ruling was as unjust as she has always believed it was, and she now has a chance to get access to her late husband's estate. This benchmark case also is the first example of courts in Texas recognizing this type of marriage as legitimate.

Source: Firehouse, "Transgender Widow of Texas Firefighter Wins Appeal" Michelle Casady, Feb. 14, 2014

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