May a Born Male Who Undergoes a Sex Change Operation Legally Marry a Male in a State That Doesn’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriage? The Answer Determines Whether “Widow” or Children Collect Deceased Firefighter’s Death Benefits

Texas Husband, a firefighter, has Children from his first marriage, to Mother.

Husband remarries Wife.

Husband dies fighting a fire.

Husband’s legal beneficiaries can expect to receive death benefits and insurance proceeds in an amount close to $600,000. Wife has already collected $60,000.

The issue: who should Husband’s legal beneficiaries be deemed to be under Texas law?

It turns out that Wife was born a man, and subsequently had a sex change operation.

Texas law does not recognize same sex marriages.

Husband’s mother has filed suit to have Husband’s marriage to Wife annulled as void, as though Husband and Wife had never been legally married. That would leave Children as Husband’s sole heirs.

Husband’s family asserts that Husband only found out about Wife’s sex change operation a few months before his death and, because of it, wanted a divorce from Wife.

Prior to Husband’s death, Mother tried to modify custody of Children to strip Husband of joint custody, to keep Children away from Wife. In those proceedings, both Husband and Wife testified that Husband did not know that Wife was transgender.

E-mails support Wife’s assertion that Husband knew her genetic history from the get-go, and that they were still together at the time of Husband’s death.

Regardless of when Husband learned that Wife was transgender, Husband hadn’t filed for divorce … or taken steps to disinherit Wife before his death.

But, legally, under Texas law, what is the gender of a born male who undergoes a sex change operation? And can such a person legally marry a male under Texas law?

A Texas trial court has temporarily frozen Husband’s estate’s assets (except for needed support for Children) pending ruling on Husband’s mother’s action for annulment.