Arizona court rules that transgender man may seek divorce from wife

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An Arizona court has ruled that the marriage of a transgender man and his wife is valid under state law, thus allowing them the right to seek a divorce.

Thomas and Nancy Beatie married in Hawaii in 2003, which was possible because the gender marker on his birth certificate and driver’s license had been legally changed to male. The couple later moved to Arizona, where they ended up filing for divorce.

But because Thomas Beatie had made headlines all over the world as “The Pregnant Man,” carrying all three of the couple’s children to term after they discovered Nancy Beatie could not conceive, it quickly turned complicated. In March 2013, Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach declared that he could not find any precedents allowing a person capable of giving birth to be defined as a man. Thus, he ruled, Beatie could not be considered male, and because he was married to a woman, it was a same-sex union—unrecognizable under Arizona law.

Gerlach said, “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, but instead, the decision is compelled by the fact that the parties failed to prove that [Thomas Beatie] was a transsexual male when they were issued their marriage license.”

While Beatie was not required to disclose which surgical procedures, if any, he had undergone when applying for his identification to be changed, records clearly show that he was legally male at the time of his marriage. Additionally, the state of Hawaii did not allow same-sex marriages until ten years after the Beaties wed there.

Arizona’s appeals court reversed the decision in part because Thomas Beatie had not concealed his transgender status from Hawaiian officials at the time of their wedding.

429Magazine

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