The Naval lieutenant (who still pilots aircraft) says she never set out to be a pioneer. But that’s how she’s been hailed by the legal team that helped Asti launch the challenge to win her husband Norwood Patton’s survivor benefits that she believed were rightfully hers following his death in 2012.
“She was a war veteran, and she’s been living her life and has been recognized as a woman for over 38 years. For the federal government to say, ‘You are not legally female’ was just so insulting at a time when she was already grieving the loss of her husband,” says Dru Levasseur, national director of the Transgender Rights Project for Lambda Legal, which took up Asti’s case in June 2013.
Adding to Asti’s argument: Her legal documents – from her Social Security card, to her passport, to her federal taxes, to her pilot’s license – had long reflected her legal status as female.
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