Thomas Beatie – The Pregnant Man
by emilycao on March 17, 2014 - 10:35am
A few weeks ago, I posted an article discussing transgendered rights. Many people in the world have been active in the fight for those rights and one person who stood out is Thomas Beatie, also known as “The Pregnant Man”.
Born female in 1974 under the name of Tracy Lehuanani Lagondino, in Oahu, Hawaii, Thomas started undergoing male-hormone therapy in his twenties to transition to a male which allowed him to change legally his birth certificate and driver’s license to say he is a man (1). He was also legally allowed to get married as a man, which he did in 2003 with Nancy. Since Nancy was unable to carry a child, Thomas kept his female reproductive organs in the hopes of carrying his own child (2). He mentions in his book Labor of Love: The Story of One Man’s Extraordinary Pregnancy that “wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire” (3). When the couple decided to have Thomas pregnant, their friends and family were unsupportive and they also faced discrimination from doctors. One of them stopped treating Thomas because he felt uncomfortable working with “someone like him” (3).The couple finally decided on artificial insemination with sperm from a donor and Thomas became pregnant with triplets. Due to complications, surgical intervention resulted into the loss of all embryos and the right fallopian tube of Thomas (3). The couple tried again and Thomas was pregnant for a second time in late 2007 without any complication (1). Over the years, he gave birth to three children.
Thomas Beatie is most famous for being the first man to become pregnant, but he recently returned under the spotlight for his battle over his divorce. In March 2012, Nancy and he filed for divorce in Phoenix, Arizona. However, Judge Douglas Gerlach issued an order challenging the jurisdiction and validity of their marriage in Hawaii and Thomas’ male identity. Since Thomas gave birth using his reproductive organs, the judge questioned whether the marriage was an invalid same-sex union (2). In fact, same-sex marriage is forbidden in Arizona and same-sex marriages performed in other states is also not recognized (1). On March 28, Judge Gerlach denied request for a divorce and on April 17, an appeal was filed with the Arizona Court of Appeals. A decision is expected in 2014 and the case will further be appealed to the Supreme Court if given a negative answer. This case is the first of its kind and the outcome will be important for transgender people as it will determine whether or not transgender people can get married, stay married and be granted a divorce (2).
Thomas Beatie’s story has been an inspiration for transgender people questioning whether they can or should start a family. He created in 1997 a business, Define Normal, which are a clothing company and a social movement. It supports not only transgender but diversity in general, with the motto that “Different is normal”. He currently works as a public speaker and author and his media appearances and interviews have been inspiring for everyone. He was named for many honors, including “40 Most Influential Men in the World”, “Huffington Post Top 20 Trans Pioneer” and “6 Transgender Role Models You Can’t Ignore” (2). Recently, Thomas gave the opening speech of the 2011 Stockholm Pride festival (4).