Nikki Araguz Loyd is celebrating after a huge victory handed down by the 13th District Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi.
Thursday's decision essentially made valid transgender marriage in the state of Texas.
"I could not say how painful so many of the last few years were," says Araguz Loyd. "But I'm so thankful that it was all for a purpose."
Araguz Loyd was married to firefighter Capt. Thomas Araguz, who died fighting a fire in Wharton in 2010. Araguz's mother and ex-wife sued to prevent the transgendered widow from receiving death benefits -- arguing the marriage was never valid because Araguz Loyd was born a man.
A state district judge declared the marriage void in 2011.
Thursday's ruling overturned that decision --stating in part that "Texas law recognizes that an individual who has had a sex change is eligible to marry a person of the opposite sex."
While Araguz Loyd celebrates -- she and her lawyers recognize that the legal battle is far from finished.
"We will be meeting over the next few days and discussing what our next move is," Araguz Loyd said.