WWII Vet Scores Major Transgender Rights Victory

by
Lauren Burgoon
Robina Asti, a World War II pilot, spurred major change in transgender rights for Social Security benefits.

The latest warrior in the battle for transgender rights is perhaps the unlikeliest of crusaders: a 93-year-old World War II veteran.

Robina Asti transitioned from male to female almost four decades ago. In her youth, then Robert Astey flew combat missions. As she transitioned in her fifties, Asti married and "had an absolutely delightful life" for 32 years with Norwood Patton, she told People.

When Patton died in 2012, Asti applied for Social Security survivor benefits that would've increased her monthly stipend by $600. But the Social Security Administration denied her claim, saying Asti was legally a male when the couple wed and ineligible for benefits.

Lambda Legal launched a battle on Asti's behalf, pushing her cause for a year when SSA suddenly capitulated on, fittingly, Valentine's Day 2014. 

"I'm glad that Social Security finally came to its senses. I hope this means that other people won’t have to experience this," Asti said at the time.

Now Asti and Lamba Legal's victory is the subject of a new documentary that debuted at film festivals this month. Check out Asti's love story and battle for transgender rights above.