Arizona Judge Denies Divorce for Transgender Mother of Three Thomas Beatie

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
article imagearticle image

An Arizona judge refused to grant a divorce to transgender man Thomas Beatie, who gave birth to three children after receiving hormone treatment for becoming a man.

Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach ruled that the Arizona ban on same-sex marriage means Beatie's nine-year marriage is invalid.

Beatie is legally male, but kept his reproductive organs and gave birth to children because his wife Nancy Roberts was infertile.

Born as a female, Beatie, 39, began hormone treatment in 1979 and underwent a double-mastectomy in 2002. In 2002, his birth certificate was also changed, identifying him as male. A year later he married Nancy in Hawaii.

He halted testosterone treatment so he could conceive their first child, Susan Juliette Beatie, who was born in the summer of 2008.

Gerlach wrote in his ruling that there was insufficient evidence of Beatie being a man at the time of his marriage. "The decision here is not based on the conclusion that this case involves a same-sex marriage merely because one of the parties is a transsexual male," he wrote.

Ryan Gordon, spokesman for Beatie, said Gerlach’s ruling was a shock. He said his client, who wants to marry his current girlfriend, intends to appeal the ruling.

"It's unfortunate that the judge out here doesn't recognize marriage in another state,'' Gordon said. He said Beatie was legally a man at the time of his marriage and was never required to disclose that he maintained female reproductive organs when he applied for a birth certificate in Hawaii.

Beatie’s divorce came to a halt last summer, when he was unable to find a legal definition of a man that included the ability to give birth to a child.

"I'm clearly a man: socially, legally, psychologically, physically - the whole ball of wax," Beatie told the Arizona Republic in December.

In a separate ruling on Friday, Gerlach set the guidelines for co-parenting the Beatie's three children, granting them joint authority in making legal decisions. Beatie will have to pay Nancy $240 a month in child support, but not alimony because the marriage was considered invalid.

Nancy’s attorney, David Higgins, said the ruling was not what they had hoped for. "He still sees a same-sex marriage, but he gave us all the rulings that we're asking for as far as the children,'' Higgins said.

Gerlach did not address whether Arizona law would allow couples to marry after undergoing a sex change.

Sources: ABC News, BBC News