WATCH: This Amazing 92-Year-Old Transgender Vet Is Fighting To Be Recognized As The Widow Of Her Late Husband

92-year-old Robina Asti, a World War II veteran and pilot, married her longtime sweetheart, Norwood Patton, in a ceremony held in an airplane hangar in New Jersey in 2004. When her husband passed away two years ago, Asti applied in person for survivor benefits through the Social Security Administration, but was denied. The reason given was that “her marriage does not meet the requirements under Federal law for payment of Social Security widow’s benefits,” due to Asti being “legally male” at the time of their wedding.

Last summer Lambda Legal, which fights for the rights of LGBT people, filed a request for reconsideration on Asti’s behalf and more than six months, she has still received no word from the SSA. Lambda filmed the video above to help draw awareness to the case. In it, Asti looks back her remarkable life and decision to transition in 1976.

“Once I made the change I became a woman in body and soul and mind,” she remembers, before adding that the prejudice against her changing “was extraordinary.”

Asti is, understandably, angry about her continued mistreatment. “I am so insulted that the Social Security Administration refused to recognize me as a woman and treated my marriage to Norwood in such a disrespectful way,” she states. Asti now wants to win the case, not just for the money owed her, but for “the act of humanity which is necessary here.”

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  • 1stsurvivorjohn

    What an amazing story and journey. I never really got why gays and trans people were lumped together. Robina’s struggle is all of our struggle. Living in Nebraska, the reddest of red states, literally and figuratively, has been very frustrating at times because of the effect of Initiative 416. Robina we feel your pain!

    Nebraska Initiative 416 was the 2000 ballot initiative that amended the Nebraska Constitution to make it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriage or civil unions. The referendum was approved on November 7, 2000, by a whopping 70% of the voters (I am sure many regret that vote).

    The text of the amendment states:
    Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska (How very Draconian of my fellow Cornhuskers).

    Several gay and lesbian advocacy organizations challenged this measure in Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning. In 2005, Judge Joseph F. Bataillon of the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska ruled that the measure violated the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and free speech, as well as its prohibition on bills of attainder. In 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overturned Judge Bataillon and ruled that “laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples … do not violate the Constitution of the United States.”

    Good old Judge Bataillion was way ahead of the curve even in this Red state. Soon, very soon Your Honor!!

  • rickhfx

    What a touching story, America needs to stop the abuse of LGBT people, its shamefully embarrassing as a nation that claims to be the defender of freedom and human rights. Get you head out of your a$$ America !

  • rickhfx

    How do people get to vote on basic human rights? America is a hot mess !

  • hyhybt

    If she was legally male, then she did not enter a legal marriage to a man in 2004 in New Jersey. It simply couldn’t be done. That the law has since been fixed doesn’t change that, though her story is certainly an example of why it’s important to get the rest of the country caught up as quickly as possible.

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