Transgendered Man Told He Can't Divorce

Do you remember the story of Thomas Beattie, who underwent a sex change in 1998, but kept his female sex organs, then got pregnant and had three children? Well, he and his wife now want a divorce, but they can't, because Arizona doesn't recognize their ma

By Josh D. Simon
Updated: July 28, 2014
divorce law and court case news

Thomas Beattie, who made headlines in 2003 for becoming a “pregnant man,” is back in the news again – this time, because an Arizona judge won’t grant him a divorce.

Beattie’s story traces back to 1998, when (at the time) she underwent a sex change operation and opted to keep her female sex organs. The post-operative Beattie then legally changed the gender on his passport and birth certificate to “male.”

Fast forward to 2003. Beattie married Nancy, and they decided to have have children. Or, rather, because of his female sex organs, he decided to have children. Three of them. Behold: the “pregnant man.” 

Now, Beattie and Nancy are divorcing. Or at least, they want to. But an Arizona family court judge isn’t complying, because he's not sure the the couple was legally married in the first place. Arizona doesn't recognize gay divorce, and as at the moment, that's how the judge views the union.  

As unique as all of these details are, the case does highlight an urgent point of law that many jurisdictions across the US and, indeed, around the world, must address quickly: how do the courts deal with cases of gay divorce when the prevailing legislation doesn’t acknowledge that such marriages exist in the first place?

That’s the question that the judge in Beattie’s case is currently mulling over, as he deliberates on whether he has the authority to grant the divorce.

Whether he does or whether he doesn’t, this much is clear: his ruling is sure to spark headlines that may not be as shocking as “Pregnant Man,” but far more consequential for thousands of gay couples across the country -- and their children.


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August 14, 2012
Categories:  Legal Issues

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