Robina Asti has never been one to back down when duty calls, whether it was fighting fascists in World War II or helping marginalized people in need today. That’s why the 99-year-old trans woman is raising a million dollars to “grant extraordinary wishes to those who feel invisible, from the aging and LGBTQ to homeless youth.”
It’s part of the life-long New Yorker’s Cloud Dancers Foundation, named in fond memory of her time flying for the Navy during the Second World War. Asti and her foundation have set up a GoFundMe page for the fundraiser. The million-dollar figure is a lofty goal, but Asti has never been one to let big numbers frighten her. She has the same feeling about her age.
"Being 99 is just a number," she told InsideEdition. "It's a number that means 100 years ago, in 1921, some little jerk was born. And that's me."
The former World War II pilot transitioned in the late 1970s, and chose to live her life quietly as a woman. She received a new mission following the death of her husband, Norwood Patton, in 2012 when the Social Security Administration initially denied her standard widow benefits because she was not legally recognized as a women at the time of the 2004 marriage. With the help of the advocacy nonprofit organization, Lambda Legal, Asti fought back and eventually won her benefits.
In the following years, Asti has become more active in the community. In addition to her work creating the Cloud Dancers Foundation, she also reaches out with emotional and physical support for the “invisible” members of the community, who live alone and without regular social contact with those outside their homes. She is sharing her experiences to inspire others and let them know that real transformative change is possible with time.
“What was so amazing about it, once I made the change I became a woman in body and soul and mind,” she recalled in a 2015 TedTalk. “It ended up being a rebirth.”