"Flying Solo" at Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festival

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April 24, 2014
Robina Asti

Lambda Legal's video, "Flying Solo: A Transgender Widow Fights Discrimination," about 92-year-old transgender widow and veteran Robina Asti, will be playing at Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festival. "Flying Solo" will be screened on Saturday, May 10, as part of the Trans Triumphant: Shorts Program.

Robina Asti was denied the survivor benefits she should have received after her husband's death for two long years. In a 2004 ceremony in an airplane hangar in Orange County, NY, Robina, a World War II veteran and pilot, married her longtime sweetheart, Norwood Patton. In June 2012, Norwood passed away at 97 years old. On July 27, 2012, Robina applied in person for survivor benefits through the SSA.

Though Robina already received Social Security benefits, being able to claim survivor benefits would increase her monthly check by about $500. On April 24, 2013, the SSA notified Robina that her survivor benefits under Norwood's Social Security record were denied because "her marriage does not meet the requirements under Federal law for payment of Social Security widow's benefits," stating that her marriage was not valid because she was "legally male" at the time of their wedding.

In June 2013, Lambda Legal filed a request for reconsideration on Robina's behalf. This past Valentine's Day, after months of advocacy by Lambda Legal, the Social Security Administration (SSA) paid Robina, and earlier this month the SSA updated its policies and procedures regarding the ability of transgender individuals to receive benefits through their spouses.