An Arizona transgender man, known by news outlets as "Pregnant Man," has been granted the right to divorce his wife by an Arizona appellate court.
Thomas Beatie, 40, legally changed his gender to "male" in Hawaii before he married his wife in 2003, reports The Arizona Republic. Although Beatie could still bear children, and Hawaii prohibited same-sex marriage, the state considered his marriage valid. However, after Beatie and his wife moved to Arizona, they found they could not get a divorce because of the state's refusal to consider their Hawaii marriage valid.
What why did the Arizona Court of Appeals decide to grant "Pregnant Man" his divorce?
After 3 Kids, 'Pregnant Man' Seeks Divorce
Beatie had been born Tracy Lagondino and underwent gender-reassignment surgery in 2002, giving him a more stereotypically male body. But the procedures left him with the ability to bear children. Hawaii allowed Beatie to legally marry his wife in 2003, but when the couple moved to Arizona and petitioned for dissolution of the marriage in 2012, things hit a legal wall.
While Hawaii may have considered Beatie's surgeries, hormone therapies, and doctor's affidavits as valid proof of a "sex change" for legal purposes, an Arizona family court was unconvinced. Since Beatie was still able to give birth to three children, the court reasoned that he was female, and that their marriage was a same-sex one. Hawaii approved gay marriage in November 2013, but Arizona only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman.
Like gay couples who had been married in states where it was legal, Beatie and his wife were caught in a strange predicament: The state wouldn't recognize their marriage, but it wouldn't grant a dissolution either.
Court Allows Divorce, Recognizes Hawaii's Sex Change Laws
The Arizona appellate court took issue with refusing to recognize Beatie's amended Hawaiian birth certificate (which says "male") as valid. The court even proclaimed that Arizona's requirements for proof to change a birth certificate were more liberal than Hawaii's -- Arizona only requires a written statement by a physician and no proof of surgery.
In addition, Arizona wrote full faith and credit for opposite-sex marriages into its laws, meaning that a valid man-woman marriage in Hawaii must be honored in Arizona.
So despite being able to have children, the "Pregnant Man" was recognized as having an opposite-sex, legal marriage, and was therefore granted the right to a legal divorce in Arizona.
- 'Pregnant Man's' Divorce a Boon for Transgender Rights (Courthouse News Service)
- Tenn. Court Upholds Gay Marriage Ban: Is 'Pro-Gay' Trend Over? (FindLaw's Decided)
- TX AG Works Against Gay Marriage and Gay Divorce (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Sex Change Surgery Now Tax Deductible (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)