Two services are planned this week for pioneering trans rights activist Nikki Araguz Loyd.
A public viewing for Araguz Loyd occurs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 13 at Rosewood Funeral Home, 17404 West Lake Houston Parkway. Her celebration of life party takes place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, November 14 at Humble Civic Center, 8233 Will Clayton Parkway.
Araguz Loyd, 44, passed away at her home in Atascocita on November 6. She is survived by William Loyd, and their two children, Charlotte and Cash. Her cause of death is undetermined at this time.
“The Matriarchal part of our family is just gone and will never be replaced,” Loyd wrote on Facebook following his wife’s passing. “I’ll love you forever TigerLilly. I’ll never love again, you were and always will be the love of my life.”
Community members are holding an online crowdfunding campaign to assist with Araguz Loyd’s funeral expenses, according to a GoFundMe organized by Vanessa Ball.
“We’ve created this GoFundMe in order to take the financial stress off of Nikki’s grieving widower and family during this time so they may process her sudden and unexpected death,” Ball wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Nikki touched the lives of many and was the first to extend a compassionate hand whenever someone needed it. We’re reaching out now to ask for support from the community.”
Araguz Loyd was born in 1975 and spent much of her adult life fighting for trans rights and leading many battles for LGBTQ equality in Houston.
At the age of 18, Araguz Loyd began taking hormone therapy. Three years later, in 1996, she successfully petitioned the 245th state District Court of Harris County to change her name, and corrected the gender on her birth certificate in California to female, reports the Houston Chronicle.
In the ‘90s, Araguz Loyd appeared on TV talk shows Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, and Sally Jessy Raphael to discuss trans issues, sharing that she had been raped at 13 and infected with HIV.
Araguz Loyd married Wharton County firefighter Tomas Araguz in 2008, who died while battling a fire in 2010. The firefighter’s mother and ex-wife sued Araguz Loyd to keep her from receiving $600,000 in death benefits, arguing that the marriage was invalid because Araguz Loyd was assigned male at birth.
The case made national headlines. Araguz Loyd garnered the support of many trans activists after being featured on television show 20/20 and a lengthy profile in Out magazine.
In 2012, Araguz Loyd was in the spotlight again when she spent nearly a month in jail after being accused of stealing a woman’s Rolex. Originally booked into the jail under her birth name, Araguz Loyd’s time incarcerated helped create a policy change under then-Sherrif Adrian Garcia. Months after her release, new federal standards required that trans inmates be addressed by their chosen name.
Following her release, Araguz Loyd met Houston artist William Loyd and they married a year later. The couple opened the Starving Artist art gallery in Montrose and launched a web series about her life.
In 2014, the state appeals court ruled that Araguz Loyd was a woman, and the following year she became eligible to collect death benefits from her previous marriage. In 2015 she founded the Transgender National Alliance, and in 2017 opened Nectar Cafe.
Araguz Loyd’s November 13 and 14 memorial services are public, and there is a dress code for both. “Nikki was loud, colorful, boisterous, sexy, and glamorous,” Ball wrote. “She would want everyone showing up as their fun, authentic selves, so let’s make this an event to remember!”
“[Nikki] was a shining star that disappeared too quickly,” Ball added. “She will be missed forever.”
What: Memorial Services for Nikki Araguz Loyd
When: November 13 and 14
Where: Rosewood Funeral Home, 17404 West Lake Houston Pkwy (public viewing), Humble Civic Center 8233 Will Clayton Pkwy (celebration of life)