By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com January 30 2014 1:22 PM ET
Robina Asti, a 92-year-old transgender woman and World War II veteran, is caught in the middle of a battle with the Social Security Administration following the death of her husband, Norwood Patton.
When Patton died in 2012 at the age of 97, Asti filed for survivor benefits through SSA. The SSA denied her request, stating that "her marriage does not meet the requirements under Federal law for payment of survivor benefits" and claiming that she was "legally male" at the time of their wedding in 2004, according to Lambda Legal.
Asti, who transitioned in 1976, has been legally recognized as a woman for more than three decades. As she has a passport, Federal Aviation Administration pilot's license, and driver's license that all list her as female, the SSA's attempt to deny her the benefits to which her marriage entitles her is puzzling. By all accounts, at the time of her marriage, she was legally female.
Ordinarily, following the death of her spouse, Asti would be eligible to collect survivor benefits through the SSA, increasing her monthly Social Security check by about $500. In June, Lambda Legal filed a request with the SSA to reconsider Asti's case. In the more than six months since, the LGBT advocacy group still has not received a response from the federal agency.
"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," Asti said in a statement released by Lambda Legal. "I have lived a very private life, but the SSA is forcing me to speak out. I don't want other people to have to experience this."
Lambda Legal has produced a video highlighting Asti's case — watch that below.