Courtesy of Nikki Araguz
  • Transgender Marriage

    Justin Grahm Purdue was born a boy in the summer of 1975. His mother, Sheri Bockelman, said people always confused her little boy for a girl. "Strangers would come up and they would say, 'Oh, what a beautiful little girl.' And I'd roll my eyes and say, 'Yes, but it's a boy,'" Bockelman said.
    Courtesy of Nikki Araguz
  • Transgender Marriage

    In grade school, Justin had no interest in boyish games like his peers did. Doctors suggested that his mother dress him in more boyish clothing. Still, he continued to gravitate to traditionally feminine activities, playing with Barbie dolls and dressing up.
    Courtesy of Nikki Araguz
  • Transgender Marriage

    Justin's internal struggles continued into adolescence. He was mocked and brutally ridiculed by his peers.
    Courtesy of Nicole Haagenson
  • Transgender Marriage

    The physical differences between Justin and other boys became more pronounced. Friends noticed that Justin, pictured left, had hips, a svelte figure, round shoulders, and a more feminine voice than his peers. It wasn't long before Justin began living a double life, going to school dressed as a boy, but changing into girl's clothes as soon as he got out.
    Courtesy of Nikki Araguz
  • Transgender Marriage

    Justin took on the name Nikki, inspired by her fascination with a longtime back-up singer for his idol Madonna. After high school, Justin/Nikki began life as a woman. Nikki Purdue spent her late teens and early 20s overindulging at bars and was arrested for both theft and driving while intoxicated.
    Courtesy of Nicole Haagenson
  • Transgender Marriage

    After a failed marriage, drug use and even jail time, Nikki Purdue turned to God. At church, she met volunteer firefighter Thomas Araguz and instantly was smitten. As this playful picture shows, Nikki said he swept her off her feet. When things got serious, she says she opened up to Araguz about her secrets, including being transgender.
    Courtesy of Nikki Araguz
  • Transgender Marriage

    The couple married in the summer of 2008. Two months later, Nikki Araguz's dream of physically becoming a woman finally came true. She flew to Colorado for sexual reassignment surgery and said her husband was aware and fully supported her.
    Courtesy of Nikki Araguz
  • Transgender Marriage

    On July 3, 2010, Thomas Araguz died while fighting a fire at an egg farm in Boling, Texas. He was 30. Because he died in the line of duty, there are death benefits potentially totaling as much as $1 million to be claimed by his surviving heirs.
    Courtesy of Simona Longoria
  • Transgender Marriage

    Thomas Araguz's family now is battling Nikki Araguz in court, saying her status as a transgender woman makes her ineligible to receive his death benefits. Attorneys for Thomas Araguz's mother allege that he never knew his wife was born male. The case currently is making its way through the legal system and it could be several months before a decision is handed down. Thomas Araguz is pictured here with his mother and father.
    Courtesy of Simona Longoria
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