Flying Solo
January 29, 2014 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Robina Asti was born in 1921. She used to take the subway to the airport when she started flying in 1936.She fought in World War II, and at the age of 92 is now fighting the government she served to obtain Social Security benefits following the death of her husband, Norwood. The Social Security Administration states that she is ineligible because her legal 2004 marriage was not legal.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (21 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I realize that the first impulse of the bureaucrat is to say "no," but, please, Federal Government, just let go, OK?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:12 PM on January 29, 2014

Amazing what insults the government will hurl at people to deny them a measly $500 per month.
posted by xingcat at 12:16 PM on January 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wow, it's very dusty in my office all of a sudden.
posted by emjaybee at 12:16 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yet another case of a nonagenarian trans* combat veteran trying to get a handout from the federal government. Stay strong, Social Security Administration! If you have to respect her rights as an American citizen, who knows whose personhood you'd have to admit the existence of! Atheists! Weirdos! Communists! The Irish!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:29 PM on January 29, 2014 [11 favorites]

Rarely is the phrase perfectly appropriate, but here it fits:

That's some bullshit right there.
posted by spitbull at 12:30 PM on January 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

For those who, like me, can't always access video: Transgender widow, 92, seeks SS survivor benefits
posted by corb at 1:19 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

No part of this decision makes any sense to me. Didn't the supreme court JUST strike down the whole, "The federal government can decide what state-issued marriage licenses are valid" business with DOMA?
posted by muddgirl at 1:22 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Getting this sorted out should be priority number one. Shortly thereafter should be finding out the bigot responsible for this, and firing them. There is no way this is an accident.
posted by explosion at 1:27 PM on January 29, 2014

Wow. That YT link is absolutely stunning. It should be required watching...
posted by Anitanola at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Before I had read any of these comments, I opened the video to watch feeling very skeptical of the situation (the post title avoids mentioning the trans* angle so I didn't know that was coming). I'm not exactly a fan of bureaucracy but I suppose I'm naturally inclined to working within the system and so I usually am one of those "but the rules" people. She does not mention her birth gender for so long that I'm actually proud of myself for assuming that she was doing all that stuff as a woman back then. She is so articulate and clear that I liked her a lot, even if I was still prepared to be sympathetic but basically unswayed.

And then she discusses her change and the choices she had to make and her marriage (with a legal certificate) and I realized just how more amazing she is. She's 92, so I probably shouldn't suggest lifting her over our shoulders, but she should be put on a pedestal by all of us who appreciate trailblazers for "the act of humanity" as she says. I totally agree, rules follower that I am, that these rules need to change and change fast. I hope she lives to see our society progress even further.
posted by dness2 at 4:04 PM on January 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just another one of the 46% with expectations of entitlement!

Rock on, Rabina Asti, rock on!
posted by BlueHorse at 5:26 PM on January 29, 2014

Never, ever, underestimate the ruthlessness in which petty bureaucracy can de-humanize someone.
posted by Sphinx at 6:54 AM on January 30, 2014

Yeah, actually, does anyone have more info on the legal reasoning they're trying to use to turn her away? With the repeal of DOMA, if there was a legal marriage, they really should have no reason not to pay her survivors benefits - even if they were considering her male (though does DOMA even /address/ trans issues?) it would /still/ be legal as a marriage now. The VA is beginning to pay out benefits to same-sex spouses. (I mean, I know bigotry has no bounds, but usually bigots try to wangle legal loopholes, not make up stuff from whole cloth)
posted by corb at 8:07 AM on January 30, 2014

DOMA doesn't specifically address specifically trans issues. This is left up to the states. My state, Louisiana, uses birth certificates to determine sex for the purposes of preventing same-sex marriage (they also used birth certificates to determine race to prevent miscegnation back when they were doing that). To change your birth certificate here you are required to have bottom surgery (although other states are more lenient and some states do not allow changing birth certificates at all). This results in a hilarious and fairly arbitrary matrix of groups of people I'm allowed to marry, depending on our particular combination of state of birth and surgery status.

This seems to be entirely something of the VA's own doing and probably doesn't have anything to do with DOMA, since they were apparently legally married as a straight couple.
posted by Corinth at 6:42 PM on January 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Somebody's heart needs to grow three sizes...
posted by Pudhoho at 7:34 PM on January 31, 2014

There's something really prurient and nasty in how interested the government is in its citizens' genitals.
posted by Lexica at 9:52 PM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Absolutely, Lexica. Today in similarly depressing news: Iranian Women Footballers To Undergo Gender Tests

(Do not click through beyond the blurb. Do not look for an article anywhere else on the internet. They are all hateful and horrible and this was the only link I could find without transphobic editorializing and comments.)
posted by Corinth at 10:58 AM on February 10, 2014

Isn't that actually less restrictive than many other countries, though? This seems to suggest that once transitioning is "complete", whatever that means, trans ladies can play on the women's team with no problems, which I don't think necessarily takes place here, at least. I could be misremembering some other posts, but I seem to recall seeing that the sports authorities in the US (or maybe the Olympics committee?) consider any hormones to be "doping." (I'm going just based off this article, haven't searched the internet per your advice.)
posted by corb at 11:19 AM on February 10, 2014

You're wrong about "sports authorities," corb, and I'm pretty sure that I have written paragraphs about this in other topics that you've participated in.

Iran is actually this really stupid outlier because they're so insanely homophobic that they allow (or, I've read, sometimes compel) people to transition to "make" them straight. (A straight trans woman pre-transition is seen by Iran as a gay man, and Iran hates gay men.)
posted by Corinth at 11:38 AM on February 10, 2014

Oh, that's freakish. I was actually kind of surprised, it looked (briefly on paper in that article) like they were remarkably progressive - but that backstory kind of "explains" that. I mean, not really explains, but explains why they would seem to be so progressive while actually being so rigid about gender and sexuality otherwise.
posted by corb at 11:41 AM on February 10, 2014

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