Thomas Beatie

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Thomas Beatie
Thomas Beatie på Stockholm Pride 2011.JPG
Thomas Beatie at Stockholm Pride 2011
Born Tracy Lehuanani LaGondino
(1974-01-20) January 20, 1974 (age 40)
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Residence Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Nancy Beatie (2003–2012) (separated)
Partner(s) Amber Nicholas
Website
http://www.DefineNormal.com

Thomas Trace Beatie (born 1974)[1] is a public speaker, author, and advocate for transgender and sexuality issues with a focus on trans fertility and reproductive rights.

Beatie, a trans man, had gender reassignment surgery in 2002 and became known as 'The Pregnant Man' after he became pregnant through artificial insemination in 2007. Beatie chose to become pregnant because his wife Nancy was infertile, doing so with cryogenic donated sperm.[2][3]

Beatie's first pregnancy resulted in an ectopic pregnancy with triplets, requiring emergency surgery and resulting in the loss of all three fetuses.[4] Beatie has since given birth to three children.

The couple filed for divorce in 2012. The Beatie case is the first of its kind on record, where a documented legal male gave birth within a traditional marriage to a woman, and for the first time, a court challenged a marriage where the husband gave birth.

Early life[edit]

Born Tracy Lehuanani LaGondino, Thomas Beatie was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, the first of two children. His mother was from San Francisco, and of English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh decent. His father, of Korean and Filipino decent, was born and raised in Hawaii.[5] As a teenager, Beatie was a female model and Miss Teen Hawaii USA pageant finalist.[6] He appeared regularly on the nationally televised aerobics workout series and video, Basic Training with Ada Janklowicz,[7] and later became a competitive bodybuilder.[8]

In 1996, Beatie graduated from the University of Hawaii with a bachelor's degree in Health Science (Pre-med) and later pursued an Executive MBA. In 1997, he founded Define Normal, a progressive clothing company, which has since expanded in federal trademark to film and video production.[9] He competed in full-contact fighting and was a black belt and tournament champion in Taekwondo.[10][11]

Gender transition and marriage[edit]

At the age of 10, Beatie started to self-identify with the male gender.[12] At 23 years old, he began testosterone hormone treatment to transition to living life as a man.

In March 2002, Beatie underwent sex reassignment surgery. The procedure he had, sometimes called "top surgery" or "chest reconstruction" involved a double mastectomy, areolar reshaping and grafting, and contouring of the chest to effectuate a male appearance. Because he wanted to have biological children and sterilization was not a requirement to undergo a valid sex change anywhere in the United States, he kept his internal reproductive organs intact.[13] Prior to marriage, he officially changed his name through Hawaii's Office of the Lieutenant Governor. He then went through the process of changing his name and sex marker from female to male on all of his state and federal documents, including his birth certificate, driver's license, passport, and social security index.

Beatie married Nancy Gillespie in a legally valid opposite-sex marriage in Hawaii on February 5, 2003.[14] The couple moved to Bend, Oregon in 2005, filed joint state and federal taxes and bought homes together as husband and wife. Beatie was also listed as "male" on his health and life insurance policies.[15] As a man, he gave birth to all three of his children from 2008 to 2010.

In February 2012, Beatie elected to have "lower surgery" to further modify his body. His surgical journey, performed by transgender surgeon, Marci Bowers,[16] was documented on his second appearance of Doctors, in 2012.[17] The procedure, called a Ring Metoidioplasty, included transfer of tissue, elongation of the hormonally enlarged phallus, as well as urethral construction and lengthening to create a functioning penis.[18] Beatie is also considering a hysterectomy.[19]

Public profile[edit]

Beatie's life became widely publicized after he wrote a first-person article in the national LGBT magazine, The Advocate, which described his unique situation and the medical discrimination he and his wife were facing. He wrote, "our situation sparks legal, political, and social unknowns... Doctors have discriminated against us, turning us away due to their religious beliefs." The article was accompanied by a provocative photograph of Beatie shirtless, bearded, and pregnant.[2] Within weeks of the online publication, news of his story quickly spread through national[20][21] and international media.[22] Countries across the world were speculating about and sensationalizing his unprecedented pregnancy.[23] In the United States, he became an instant subject for talk shows and was satirized on late-night television, such as David Letterman,[24] South Park's Eek a Penis!,[25] and Saturday Night Live (Andy Samburg impersonated a pregnant Beatie.)[26]

In April 2008, Beatie made his first television appearance, an hour-long exclusive interview, on the Oprah Winfrey Show.[27] During the show, he talked about his sense of reproductive right to bear a child independent of his male gender identity. He commented, "I have a very stable male gender identity. I see pregnancy as a process, and it doesn't define who I am. It's not a male or female desire to want to have a child—it's a human desire... I'm a person, and I have the right to have my own biological child."[28] The Oprah episode received a spike in Nielsen ratings.[29] In the April 14, 2008, edition of People (magazine), Beatie was photographed by Mary Ellen Mark for a six-page story.[30][31] Beatie delivered his first child, Susan Juliette Beatie, on June 29, 2008, at the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon. Multitudes of tabloids, magazines, and news sources continued reporting on the story after paparazzi captured images of the family leaving the hospital days later.[32][33] People Magazine's senior editor, Patrick Rogers, gave an interview to the CBS Early Morning Show about the birth.[34] People Magazine's August 4, 2008, edition featured Beatie with daughter, Susan, sharing the cover with President Barack Obama and family.[35][36] The magazine has since reported on the Beatie family dozens of times.[37]

On November 13, 2008, journalist Barbara Walters announced on The View that Thomas was expecting his second child, Austin Alexander Beatie.[38] The next day, ABC aired a 20/20 Barbara Walters primetime interview ("Journey of a Pregnant Man") with Thomas and Nancy Beatie.[39][40] On June 9, 2009, Beatie gave birth to his second child, his first son, Austin Alexander Beatie.[41] The couple's third child, son, Jensen James Beatie was born to Thomas 13 and a half months later on July 25, 2010.[14][42][43]

Guinness World Records 2010, named Beatie the "World's First Married Man to Give Birth."[44] In a TV broadcast from Rome, Italy, Guinness World Records presented him with the title of "Unico Uomo Incinto al Mondo," translated as "World's First Pregnant Man."[45]

Other TV appearances for Beatie include Larry King Live with Larry King,[46] The View,[47] Good Morning America,[48] Anderson Live with Anderson Cooper,[49] Oprah: Where Are They Now?,[50] and repeat features on The Doctors[17][51] and Dr. Drew.[52][53] Beatie has made personal appearances on over a dozen hit international TV talk shows in other countries such as Spain, Greece, Germany, Italy, Romania, Russia, Japan, Sweden, Poland, and the UK.[10]

Beatie is also a keynote speaker at colleges and universities.[54][55]

Legal precedent and divorce[edit]

On March 8, 2012, Beatie filed a Petition for Legal Separation (FC 2012-051183) in Maricopa County, Arizona.[56] Shorty after, Nancy converted the motion to a divorce. News of the break-up with his wife was leaked to tabloids during an April taping of the talk show The Doctors.[57][58] Primarily due to alcoholism issues and domestic violence, Nancy was restricted to two-hour supervised visits with the children three times per week.[59] On May 16, 2012, Thomas was awarded temporary sole custody of his three children and ordered to pay alimony to Nancy.[60][61]

The divorce proceedings were moving along as expected, until June 26, 2012, when Arizona Superior Court Judge Douglas Gerlach issued a Nunc Pro Tunc Order questioning whether the Court had jurisdiction over the matter. The Beatie case is the first of its kind on record, where a documented legal male gave birth within a traditional marriage to a woman, and the first time a court has challenged a marriage based upon a husband giving birth.[62][63] Judge Gerlach stated, "the Court has located no authority that defines a man (or male) in terms that contemplate that person’s ability to give birth to children. Thus, this question: are we dealing here with a same-sex marriage?" Like Hawaii at the time, Arizona does not issue or validate same-sex marriage, so if Beatie were found to be female according to Arizona statute, the ten-year Beatie marriage would not be recognized in that state.[64]

Beatie's attorneys at the Cantor Law Group filed a memorandum showing that under Arizona State Statute, a transgender man's legal definition is set by certain medical operations, treatments, and finally a certified doctor's approval. "Since Arizona and Hawaii have virtually the same Sex Change Statute, in this case we will prove that under the law Thomas was a man at the time of his wedding. Sterilization is not a requirement of either State’s Statute. Under both Arizona’s and Hawaii’s law Thomas was a man at the time of his marriage, and therefore his three children born during the marriage are legitimate," stated attorney, David Michael Cantor. On August 15, 2012, Judge Gerlach ordered an Evidentiary Hearing and Oral Argument on December 7, 2012.[61] The Transgender Law Center filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the December trial in support of the Beaties' marriage and believes that the case could be significant regarding marriage, divorce, and reproductive rights for transgender people in the state of Arizona and around the country.[65][66] Expert testimony was provided by Beatie's sex-reassignment surgeon, Dr. Michael Brownstein M.D., in which the doctor implied that gender is more psychological than chromosomal. He also attested that the chest reconstruction procedure Beatie had undergone qualified as a sex-change surgery.[67]

On January 31, 2013, a trial was heard to determine custody, child support, and division of property and debts, even though Arizona is not a common-law state.[68][69] Despite the marriage's being put into question, the courts proceeded with custody arrangements for the children because both Beatie and Nancy legally adopted each of their three children in Oregon, in the Oregon court orders, Thomas was also listed as "father" and Nancy was listed as "mother" on each birth certificate, and each spouse had equal parental rights to custody.[70]

On March 28, 2013, the court ruled that it had a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction to grant the Beaties a divorce and that Arizona did not have to comply with accepting out-of-state birth or marriage certificates. Despite medical testimony stating otherwise, Judge Gerlach did not consider gender identity, hormone treatment, and chest reconstruction as a valid sex-change surgery, as grounds for successful gender transition. "If adopted, (it) would lead to circumstances in which a person's sex can become a matter of whim and not a matter of any reasonable, objective standard or policy, which is precisely the kind of absurd result the law abhors." Beatie's attorney said the judgement was riddled with errors and that he is confident the judge's order will be overturned.[68][71] The court also ruled to give Nancy joint legal decision-making, physical custody and equal parenting time, ordering Beatie to pay her nearly $240 month in child support. Due to the marriage's not being seen as valid in Arizona, alimony was not further enforced, though the division of property was.[72]

However, in August 2014, an Arizona Appeals Court declared that the marriage of the Beaties was valid and therefore they can get divorced, stating that Beatie should not have had to be sterilized in order to be legally recognized as a man in Arizona or Hawaii. [73]

Beatie now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his three children and girlfriend, Amber Nicholas.[74]

LGBT activism[edit]

In 2000-2001, Beatie was the co-chair and media chair for the Civil Unions-Civil Rights Movement in Honolulu, Hawaii, a non-profit LGBT organization for marriage equality. He helped organize and implement an island-wide, seven-day, 110-mile March for Equality.[75][76][77] He also lobbied to pass the state’s first Hate Crimes Law[78][79](which passed in June, 2001), and worked as an advisor for the city and county’s Chapter 19, an anti-bullying policy for the Board of Education.[80]

In August 2011, he was the main opening speaker for Stockholm Pride, speaking to an audience of tens of thousands. He also spearheaded one-on-one discussions with doctors, politicians, and policy-makers in support of abolishing the sterilization law for Swedish transgender people.[81][82][83] Sweden's forced sterilization law for trans people was successfully overturned on December 19, 2012.[84]

Cultural impact[edit]

Beatie is one of a small but growing number of transgender people in the media. He has brought international and prime-time attention to issues of gender transitioning and gender expression. In addition, by Beatie's giving birth as a fully documented male, he has challenged social and legal definitions of what constitutes being a man or a woman.[85][86] People Magazine defines him as a pop culture icon in the magazine's special edition "Pop Culture: 1000 Greatest Moments 1974 - 2011."[87] His legal case is also a precedent-setter for the ability of transgender people to exercise their constitutional right to reproduce and be recognized as his or her legal gender post sex-change transition.[65]

Sculpture[edit]

In May 2010, London sculptor Marc Quinn unveiled a 10-foot marble statue of Beatie when he was pregnant with daughter Susan. Marc Quinn commented, “I think one of the main things to remember is that media attention and images are of their moment whereas Art is forever… that in 500 years time people will look at the beautiful marble sculpture of [Thomas] and have an emotional response and it will, I believe, somehow define something about our time.”[10] [88][89]

Film[edit]

The documentary Pregnant Man (2008) documented the final weeks of Beatie's pregnancy and the birth of Susan.[90][91][92] The documentary was the highest rated show for Discovery Networks for 2008.[93][94][95] The documentary continues to screen worldwide.[96][97]

Beatie's publications[edit]

Shortly after Susan was born, Beatie authored his first book, Labor of Love: The Story of One Man’s Extraordinary Pregnancy (2008).[98][99] In Labor of Love, Beatie describes the fight for his right to have a child. Publisher’s Weekly said the book was “A compelling, unique narrative”. Book List praised it as “Unforced and unpretentious,” and the New York Times called it “Defiant and transformative.”[100]

Other Works Include

  • Thomas Beatie, "Labor of Love: Is society ready for this pregnant husband?" The Advocate[2]
  • Book contribution, The New Transsexuals: The Next Step in Human Evolution by George Petros, Thomas Beatie, pp. 34–43[101]
  • Swedish newspaper contribution to Aftonbladet[102]
  • Book contribution, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in the Workplace by Christine Duffy[103]
  • Thomas Beatie, "Dad v. Scorpion," Goodmenproject.com[104]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Barbara Walters Top 10 Fascinating People of 2008[105]
  • Details Magazine: 40 Most Influential Men in the World[106]
  • 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards nominee: The Oprah Winfrey Show, Outstanding Talk Show Episode nominee, "The Pregnant Man": subject Thomas Beatie[107]
  • 2009 Time Magazine: Time 100 Finalist[108]
  • People Magazine: Pop Culture 1000 Greatest Moments 1974 - 2011[109]
  • 2008 People Magazine: 11 Most Shocking Moments[110]
  • Advocate Magazine: People of the Year 2008[111]
  • Time Magazine: The Top 10 Everything of 2008: Top 10 Oddball News Stories: #1 The Pregnant Man[112]
  • Huffington Post: Top 20 Trans Pioneer of 2011[113]
  • Handsome Men (Who Were Born Female)[114]

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