The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that “Pregnant Man” Thomas Beatie could get his Hawaiian marriage dissolved in an Arizona court.
The ruling means that, in Arizona, transgender persons who
have legally changed their birth certificates to reflect their new
gender are afforded the same rights to get driver’s licenses and
marriage licenses as any other individuals.
Beatie, 40, was born female, but in 1997, he began testing to
determine his psychological gender, and in 2002 underwent the
first of his gender-reassignment surgeries. Under Hawaiian
law, he was able to have his birth certificate amended and be
legally recognized as male. He subsequently married.
Because his wife was unable to conceive children, and
because Beatie still had female reproductive organs, he was
artificially inseminated and became pregnant.
Then he hit the talk-show and tabloid circuit as the “The
Pregnant Man,” posing with his manly beard and chest and his
very pregnant belly. He gave birth to his first child in 2008 and
had two more by 2011.
By then, he and his wife had moved to Arizona. When their
marriage fell apart, and Beatie wanted to marry another
woman, they petitioned for an uncontested divorce.
But in March 2013, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge
Douglas Gerlach ruled that Beatie’s marriage was between two
females because Beatie had given birth. Same-sex marriage is
illegal in Arizona.
In one of his rulings, Gerlach wrote that Beatie’s “marriage was
between a female … and a person capable of giving birth, who
later did so.”
Wednesday’s ruling, however, noted that Arizona law also
permits people who have had gender reassignment to alter
their birth certificates and legally change gender. In fact,
according to the opinion, Arizona’s law on the matter is more
liberal than Hawaii’s in terms of what evidence must be
presented to amend the birth certificate.
“The question before this Court is not whether the State of
Arizona allows same-sex marriage or divorce, but whether the
laws of the State of Arizona allow a marriage, lawfully entered
into in another state, between two persons the foreign state
formally recognized at the time of the marriage as male and
female, to be dissolved,” the appellate decision said.
“At the time of the Beaties’ marriage in Hawaii, that state only
allowed marriages between a man and a woman, and Hawaii’s
legislature, like Arizona’s, had established statutory authority
allowing persons who had undergone a sex change operation
to apply for and obtain an amended birth certificate reflecting
the appropriate gender.”
Beatie and his wife may go ahead with divorce proceedings,
the opinion says.
In a statement released by his attorney, David Michael Cantor,
Beatie was quoted as saying, “I feel I have finally been
recognized in Arizona as not just a man, but a human being.”