Some people who meet me still can’t believe I was a real Texas Ranger, but I’m used to that. I’ve been surprising people all my life.
Look sharp: Nix, photographed on November 8, 2004, at the Department of Public Safety headquarters, in Austin.
Photograph by Kenny Braun

I’ve spent almost my entire career being one of the only women in my profession. First it was being in the Army Reserves after I finished college in the seventies, then it was being the third woman overall, and the first African American, to become a Texas Ranger. It got to the point where at work I just realized that I would never be completely accepted as one of the guys but that I wasn’t really one of the girls either. Sometimes I was somewhere in between.

My father was in the military in South Carolina when I was born, but we moved around a lot. Eventually we settled in Abilene when I was in junior high school. I was in the ROTC during college, and then I joined the Reserves after I graduated. They sent me to the 6th Cavalry Division at Fort Hood as an officer as a sort of experiment. There were lots of compromises that had to be made for women back then. Some were little things as simple as finding bathroom facilities. At one point I had to use the commanding officer’s bathroom because there was nothing else there. He wasn’t happy about it, but he also saw that I wasn’t going away. And when we’d go out into the field for drills, the other three women and I had to

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