By John Clark
An Arizona man is trying to get a divorce, but his efforts may be thwarted because of a sex-change operation, according to a bizarre report from the Associated Press.
The story is as remarkable as the legal tussle facing the state of Arizona. In 1997, Thomas Beatie, who was born a woman, began testosterone treatments to transform himself into a man.
Five years later, Beatie had chest reconstruction surgery and changed his driver’s license to say he was male.
In 2003, Thomas Beatie married his partner, Nancy, in Honolulu. Soon, Thomas, who still retained female reproductive organs, became pregnant thanks to a dose of donated sperm, and gained national fame as the “Pregnant Man.”
Over the next few years, Thomas gave birth to three children, all of whom are now under the age of four, and he and his partner eventually moved to Arizona.
Recently, Thomas and Nancy decided to end their nine-year marriage, but their efforts to file for divorce have become incredibly complicated, thanks to an Arizona ban on same-sex marriage.
According to Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach, Thomas cannot be considered a man for legal purposes because he has given birth to three children.
As a result, Judge Gerlach has spent several months trying to determine whether Thomas is, under Arizona law, a woman. If so, the couple’s marriage would be deemed invalid, and the state of Arizona would refuse to allow the couple to divorce.
Sources say, however, that this could be a landmark case for transgendered people. In brief, Judge Gerlach must determine whether Arizona judges have the ability to grant a divorce in cases involving a transgender party, despite the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.
Interestingly, Thomas Beatie would stand to benefit financially if the court ruled that his marriage was invalid, because he is expected to have to pay alimony to Nancy if a divorce is granted.
Beatie, however, doesn’t mind losing money as long as the validity of his marriage is confirmed, according to his divorce attorney.
And Beatie won’t have to wait much longer to learn the fate of his marriage. Sources say a judge is expected to rule in early February, just a few days after the trial begins at the end of January.
Thus will end one of the most bizarre divorces cases in recent memory. Of course, according to Nancy Beatie’s divorce attorney, if you “took away the transgender part of it,” the couple’s dispute is really a “garden-variety divorce case.”