Araguz booking raises questions about Harris County jail’s treatment of transgender inmates

Judge Vanessa Valasquez

Judge Vanessa Valasquez

According to the Houston Chronicle, Nikki Araguz has been booked into the Harris County Jain after arriving 40 minutes late for a scheduled court appearance on Friday. The court date was to allow Araguz to plead guilty to charges that she stole a watch from an acquaintance last year. Under the proposed plea bargain Araguz would have paid $2,600 in restitution and served 15 days in county jail. State District Judge Vanessa Velasquez, a Republican first appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry, responded to Araguz’ apologies for her tardiness with “It’s too late for sorry,” ordering bailiffs to escort her to a hold cell next to the courtroom.

Araguz is the widow of firefighter Capt. Thomas Araguz who died in the line of duty last year. Capt. Araguz’s ex-wife and mother have sued to claim the portion of his survivor’s benefits reserved for the spouses of slain firefighters, claiming that since Nikki Araguz was identified as male at birth the marriage was invalid under Texas’ laws prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriage. Mrs. Araguz’s birth certificate identifies her as female, as does her state issued identification.

Araguz’s booking has raised questions about the Harris County’s treatment of transgender detainees. The Sheriff Department’s Public Information Inquiry System listed Araguz using her male birth name on Friday. They have since removed the name from the site’s searchable database but have retained the record, listing it under the department’s “special person number” (SPN) filing system. The SPN record includes Araguz’s birth name. The Sheriff’s office has not returned calls from Houstini asking why the department is not using Araguz’s legal name and if this is common practice.

According to a friend who has visited Araguz at the jail her identity bracelet correctly identifies her gender as “F” – but reflects Araguz’s birth name, not her legal name. Araguz is segregated from the general jail population, but can receive visitors during regular visiting hours.

Araguz will remain in the Harris County Jail until Jan 25 when she is scheduled to appear again before Judge Velasquez.

—  admin

Sign of the Times: Poet’s Corner

Spotted at the corner of Waugh and Westheimer on the side of the old Mary’s Bar. A wheat paste poem:

Tonight I am a monster, my wisdom is my pride.
My question yields no answer, aggression simplified.
While heinous fits of virtue are blind to any cause,
burning acts of passion birth charred and withered flaws.
I will not show you mercy,
I mean no disrespect.
Strip emotion of its value and words are what you get.
Sincerity is honest, these eyes will never lie.
Tonight I am a Monster,
tomorrow just a fly.

The name of the artist/poet appears to be Remüv.

—  admin

‘The Frozen Twin’ tonight at Stone Cottage Theatre

Major family drama

As part of MBS Productions’ 7 Plays in 7 Days festival, tonight they premiere Carol M. Rice’s  The Frozen Twin. How can a woman give birth to her own sister? Much less a twin? Debbie has an idea but her boyfriend isn’t quite on board. The play is directed by Jon Christie.

DEETS: Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. 8 p.m. $14. MBSProductions.net.

 

—  Rich Lopez

Broken Mould

Queer punk pioneer Bob Mould turned an abusive childhood into a musical movement, but memoir targets hardcore fans

2.5 out of 5 stars
SEE A LITTLE LIGHT: THE TRAIL OF RAGE AND MELODY
By Bob Mould (with Michael
Azerrad). 2001 (Little, Brown)
$25; 404 pp.

………………………….
It all starts with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” It continues with the itsy-bitsy spider, the ABCs and being a little teapot. From there, you embrace whatever your older siblings are listening to until you develop your own musical tastes. Maybe you started with records, moved on to the cassette tapes, CD and now, your iPod is full.

The point is, you’ve never been without your tunes.

But what about the people who make the music you love?

When Mould was born in 1960 in the northernmost end of New York, he entered a family wracked with grief: Just before he was born, Mould’s elder brother died of kidney cancer. He surmises that the timing of his birth resulted in his being a “golden child,” the family peacekeeper who sidestepped his father’s physical and psychological abuse.

“As a child,” he writes, “music was my escape.”

Mould’s father, surprisingly indulgent, bought his son guitars and young Bob taught himself to play chords and create songs. By the time he entered high school, Mould knew that he had to get out of New York and away from his family. He also knew he was gay, which would be a problem in his small hometown.

He applied for and entered college in Minnesota, where he started taking serious guitar lessons and drinking heavily. His frustrations led him to launch a punk rock band that made a notable impact on American indie music.

Named after a children’s game, Hüsker Dü performed nationally and internationally, but Mould muses that perhaps youth was against them. He seemed to have a love-hate relationship with his bandmates, and though he had become the band’s leader, there were resentments and accusations until the band finally split.

HUSKER DON’T | Bob Mould turned his youthful rage and homosexuality into a music career. (Photo by Noah Kalina)

But there were other bands and there were other loves than music, as Mould grew and learned to channel the rage inside him and the anger that volcanoed from it.

“I spent two years rebuilding and reinventing myself,” writes Mould. “Now that I’ve integrated who I am and what I do, I finally feel whole.”

If you remember with fondness the ‘80s, with its angry lyrics and mosh pits, then you’ll love this book. For most readers, though, See a Little Light is going to be a struggle. Mould spends a lot of time on a litany of clubs, recording studios, and locales he played some 30 years ago — which is fine if you were a fellow musician or a rabid, hardcore fan. This part of the book goes on… and on… and on, relentlessness and relatively esoteric in nature.

Admittedly, Mould shines when writing about his personal life but even so, he’s strangely dismissive and abrupt with former loves, bandmates, and even family. I enjoyed the occasional private tale; unfortunately there were not enough.

Overall, See a Little Light is great for Mould fanboys and those were heavy into the punk scene. For most readers, though, this book is way out of tune.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Judge to rule this week in Nikki Araguz case

Nikki Araguz

Transgender widow vows appeal if she loses case

JUAN A. LOZANO  |  Associated Press

WHARTON, Texas — The transgender widow of a Texas firefighter will likely learn next week whether his family’s request to nullify their marriage and strip her of any death benefits will be granted, a judge said Friday.

State District Judge Randy Clapp made the announcement after hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed by the family of firefighter Thomas Araguz III, who was killed while battling a blaze last year. The suit argues that his widow shouldn’t get any benefits because she was born a man and Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

The widow, Nikki Araguz, said she had done everything medically and legally possible to show that she is female and was legally married under Texas law. She believes that she’s entitled to widow’s benefits.

“I believe the judge is going to rule in my favor,” Araguz said after the court hearing.

The lawsuit seeks control over death benefits and assets totaling more than $600,000, which the firefighter’s family wants to go to his two sons from a previous marriage. Voiding the marriage would prevent Nikki Araguz from receiving any insurance or death benefits or property the couple had together.

Thomas Araguz died while fighting a fire at an egg farm near Wharton, about 60 miles southwest of Houston, in July 2010. He was 30.

His mother, Simona Longoria, filed a lawsuit asking that her son’s marriage be voided. She and her family have said he learned of his wife’s gender history just prior to his death, and after he found out, he moved out of their home and planned to end the marriage.

But Nikki Araguz, 35, has insisted that her husband was aware she was born a man and that he fully supported her through the surgical process to become a woman. She underwent surgery two months after they were married in 2008.

Longoria’s attorney, Chad Ellis, argued that Texas law — specifically a 1999 appeals court ruling that stated chromosomes, not genitals, determine gender — supports his client’s efforts to void the marriage.

The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision that threw out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a San Antonio woman, Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, after her husband’s death. The court said that although Littleton had undergone a sex-change operation, she was actually a man, based on her original birth certificate, and therefore her marriage and wrongful death claim were invalid.

Ellis presented medical and school records that he said showed Nikki Araguz was born without female reproductive organs and that she presented herself as a male while growing up and going to school. He also said her birth certificate at the time of her marriage indicated she was a man.

“By law, two males cannot be married in this state,” Ellis told the judge.

Nikki Araguz, who was born in California, did not change her birth certificate to reflect she had become a female until after her husband’s death, said Edward Burwell, one of the attorneys for Thomas Araguz’s ex-wife, Heather Delgado, the mother of his two children.

But one of Nikki Araguz’s attorneys, Darrell Steidley, said that when his client got her marriage license, she presented the necessary legal documents to show she was a female. He also noted changes made in 2009 to the Texas Family Code that allowed people to present numerous alternatives to a birth certificate as the proof of identity needed to get a marriage license. That was an example, he argued, of the state trying to move away from the 1999 appeals court ruling.

The changes in 2009 allowed transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license. The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill that would prohibit county and district clerks from using a court order recognizing a sex change as documentation to get married.

After the hearing, the firefighter’s family and attorneys for his ex-wife criticized plans by Nikki Araguz to star in a reality television dating show and implied she was only interested in money and fame that the case would bring her.

“That is absurd,” Nikki Araguz said in response. “I’m after my civil equality and the rights that I deserve as the wife of a fallen firefighter.”

If the judge rules against the firefighter’s family in their motion for a summary judgment, the case would then proceed to trial. Araguz said if the judge rules against her, she would appeal, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

—  John Wright

Is Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ Music Video Going To Show Her Giving Birth?

Read the post here.


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Queerty

—  David Taffet

Rosie O’Donnell’s Choice Of Birth Control For Her Kids: MTV’s Teen Mom

Teen Mom, the controversial MTV series that advertisers aren't feeling from, still scores its share of criticism from folks who think it glamorizes teen pregnancy. (It doesn't. It makes teen pregnancy look awful. But these girls do get paid to be on camera.) Who's coming to the show's defense? Ms. Rosie O'Donnell, who thinks the series will keep her own teenage daughter from getting knocked up.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  admin

Elton John and David Furnish Announce Birth of Son!

John Elton John and David Furnish announce the birth of their son Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, Us Magazine reports:

"The baby boy, who was born Dec. 25 in California via a surrogate, weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces. 'We are overwhelmed with happiness and joy at this very special moment,' John and Furnish tell Us in a joint statement. 'Zachary is healthy and doing really well, and we are very proud and happy parents.' This is the first child for John, 62, and Furnish, 48. The couple married in 2005 after 12 years together. A rep for the couple has stated that they intend to protect and respect the privacy of their surrogate, and will not be discussing any details relating to the surrogacy arrangements."

Wow! Congrats to the family!


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

MEXICO CITY: Woman Becomes Surrogate Birth Mother To Gay Son’s Baby

After an in vitro fertilization procedure, a 50 year-old woman in Mexico City has become the surrogate mother to her 31 year-old gay son’s baby using a donated egg and her son’s sperm.

The baby, called Dario, was born by caesarean section on November 1 and the mother and child were sent home after a 48-hour period of observation. Doctors said there were no complications. ‘I don’t feel like a mother nor like a grandmother,’ the woman told Reforma, a Mexico City newspaper. ‘When they say “mother” to me I feel strange, and when they say “grandmother” also,’ she said. ‘I mean, he was my first grandson, and I don’t feel that way because at the same time he is my fourth son.’ The family has fully documented the circumstances of the birth so that the child will one day be able to learn of his origins.

The birth has already gotten widespread coverage on anti-gay and Christianist blogs, where it is being ridiculed as yet another example of “bizarre gay parenting.” NOM tweeted the story this morning and the Freepers are having a field day.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Addendum: Our future selves would be embarrassed if we didn’t birth this post

All right, so we know we just covered her — but we simply must do one more little item on Jennifer Roback Morse. Because honestly, this quip that puts same-sex civil marriage all up in the procreation and reproductive technology argument, and that puts future equality activists in the “embarrassed” chair, is one of the oddest assessments of the fight that we’ve heard in a very long time:



*SOURCE: Jennifer Roback Morse [Ruth Institute]

I honestly think a lot of people in the same-sex marriage debate today who think they’re on the right side of history and that we’re on the wrong side of history, and we all are going to be embarrassed — I think that thirty years from now, if we go on like this, that they will be embarrassed, right? Because if you have a social norm that says anybody who can pay gets to do anything they want, ya know, think about it — the Dept. of Defense can pay. The Dept. of Defense has money. The pharmaceutical companies have money. Hugh Hefner has money. There are a lot of people who have money who can do what they want, and if the norm is that you get to manufacture other people for your purposes, we think it’s cool because as far as we know, every person has a child to love, but how do we know that’s going to be the purpose? I think this is a very dangerous areas we’re going into.

Okay, first and most obvious: Same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting is actually a different thing. Gays are not require to run to their nearest surrogacy center within an hour after saying “I do.” Believe it or not.

Also, gay couples are having children, independent from the marriage contract. This is a right that is happening all over the country, and one that has nothing to do with how the individual state or federal law recognizes the family. Other than, of course, to the family itself, for which marriage equality freedom would be a major step forward.

Plus, what’s with the major money factor and odd Hefer and Defense Dept. references? Yes, certain reproductive methods do get pricey. But they don’t have to. There are homespun options that costs, well — how much does a turkey baster go for these days anyway?

So while Ms. Roback Morse might think that her wholly reproduction-based arguments are the foundation for equality activists’ future red faces, the obvious reality is that this can and will only happen if something major occurs in this world which forces children to become a marital requirement, and then produces a society where a vast majority of the married gays create little farts that stink up American society’s collective dinner party. Otherwise, we’re fairly confident that the 2040 awkwardness will most fully lie with those who look back on their 2010 condemnations and realize how much time and money that they wasted trying to thwart a complete and utter non-problem.




Good As You

—  John Wright