Thomas Beatie

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Thomas Beatie
Thomas Beatie på Stockholm Pride 2011.JPG
Thomas Beatie at Stockholm Pride 2011
Born1974 (age 45–46)[1]
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
NationalityAmerican
Spouse(s)Nancy Gillespie (2003–2012)
Amber Nicholas (2016–)
Children4
Websitedefinenormal.com

Thomas Trace Beatie (born 1974[1]) is an American public speaker, author, and advocate of transgender and sexuality issues, with a focus on transgender fertility and reproductive rights.[2]

In early 1997, Beatie came out as a trans man. Beatie had gender reassignment surgery in March 2002 and became known as "the pregnant man" after he became pregnant through artificial insemination in 2007.[3] Beatie chose to be pregnant because his wife Nancy was infertile, doing so with cryogenic donated sperm.[4][5] 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 heterosexual marriage to a woman, and for the first time, a court challenged a marriage where the husband gave birth.

Early life[edit]

Beatie grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, the first of two children. Beatie's mother was from San Francisco, and of English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh descent. His father, of Korean and Filipino descent, was born and raised in Hawaii.[6][page needed]

Beatie writes that he started to self-identify with the male gender at age ten.[7] As a teenager, Beatie was a model and Miss Hawaii Teen USA pageant finalist.[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. He competed in full-contact fighting and was a black belt and tournament champion in Taekwondo.[9][10]

Transition[edit]

In March 2002, Beatie underwent sex reassignment surgery involving a double mastectomy,[11] also known as "top surgery",[3] and officially changed his sex marker from "female" to "male" on his state and federal identity documents.[3][12] Prior to marriage he legally changed his name.

Beatie married Nancy Gillespie in a legally valid heterosexual marriage in Hawaii on February 5, 2003.[13] Beatie was also listed as "male" on his health and life insurance policies. The couple moved to Bend, Oregon in 2005.[6][page needed] When the two decided to start a family, Beatie chose to carry the child, since Nancy was unable due to a prior hysterectomy.[14] He was able to become pregnant, having retained his female reproductive organs.[15] Beatie suspended testosterone hormone treatment in order to conceive twice with donor sperm, delivering both children without complications.[16]

In February 2012, Beatie elected to have "lower" surgery, including the creation of a functional penis.[3] The procedure, performed by transgender surgeon Marci Bowers,[17] was documented on his second appearance of The Doctors, in 2012.[18] The procedure, called a ring metoidioplasty, included transfer of tissue, elongation of the hormonally enlarged phallus, as well as urethral construction and lengthening.[19]

Public profile[edit]

Beatie received intense media attention after he wrote a first-person article in the national LGBT magazine The Advocate in 2008.[14][11] He wrote, "our situation sparks legal, political, and social unknowns [...] Doctors have discriminated against us, turning us away due to their religious beliefs".[6]:265–6[4][15] The article was accompanied by a shirtless photograph of the pregnant Beatie,[11] which became an object of voyeurism among the public according to the queer theorist Jack Halberstam.[14] Within weeks of the online publication, news of his story quickly spread through national[20][21] and international media,[22] who dubbed Beatie "the pregnant man".[3][12]

The media attention challenged many people's ideas about sex and gender, and attracted criticism of Beatie's identity and motives. Sociologist Lisa Wade wrote, "I'm not sure what to make, sociologically, of the attention that Thomas' pregnancy is receiving in the mass media, but it is ripe for analysis".[3] Many media outlets treated Beatie's pregnancy as a "freak show", according to media scholar Andre Cavalcante.[11] The story helped promote transgender issues in the media; other trans men had given birth before Beatie, but were neither reported on nor legally recognized as male.[16]

In April 2008, Beatie made his first television appearance, an hour-long exclusive interview, on the Oprah Winfrey Show.[23] During the show, he talked about his sense of reproductive right to bear a child independent of his male gender identity. He commented, "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."[16][11][24] The Oprah episode received a spike in Nielsen ratings.[25] In the April 14, 2008, edition of People (magazine), Beatie was photographed by Mary Ellen Mark for a six-page story.[26][27]

Beatie delivered his first child, Susan, on June 29, 2008.[3] Multiple tabloids, magazines, and other news outlets reported the story after paparazzi captured images of the family leaving the at the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon days later.[28][29] People's senior editor, Patrick Rogers, gave an interview to the CBS Early Morning Show about the birth.[30] People's August 4, 2008, edition featured Beatie with his daughter, Susan, sharing the cover with a larger image of Barack Obama, who at the time was a presidential candidate in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, posing with his family.[31][32]

On November 13, 2008, journalist Barbara Walters announced on The View that Thomas was expecting his second child, Austin Alexander Beatie.[33] The next day, ABC aired a 20/20 Barbara Walters primetime interview ("Journey of a Pregnant Man") with the Beaties.[34][35] During the interview, Walters showed a series of photographs of Beatie, commenting on the "disturbing" nature of the images, many of which highlighted his pregnant belly.[14]

In June 2009, Beatie gave birth to his second child, a son.[36] The couple's third child, a second son was born in July 2010.[37][38][39]

Guinness World Records 2010, named Beatie the "World's First Married Man to Give Birth".[3][40] 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."[41]

Other TV appearances for Beatie include Larry King Live with Larry King,[42] The View,[43] Good Morning America,[44] Anderson Live with Anderson Cooper,[45] Oprah: Where Are They Now?,[46] and repeat features on The Doctors[18][47] and Dr. Drew.[48][49] 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.[9]

Between August and November 2016, he was a contestant in the tenth season of Secret Story, the French adaptation of Big Brother; his secret was "I'm the first pregnant man ever". He placed 2nd of all the contestants with 28% of the televote in the final.

Beatie owns a website and T-shirt company featuring the slogan "Define Normal",[3] and has given keynote speeches at colleges and universities.[50][51]

Legal precedent and divorce[edit]

On March 8, 2012, Beatie filed a Petition for Legal Separation in Maricopa County, Arizona.[52] Shortly 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.[53] Nancy was restricted to two-hour supervised visits with the children three times per week.[54] On May 16, 2012, Thomas was awarded temporary sole custody of his three children and ordered to pay alimony to Nancy.[55][56]

During the divorce proceedings, the presiding judge stated that because Beatie had given birth to the couple's children, he was legally female and therefore the marriage was not recognized in the state.[12] Arizona Superior Court Judge Douglas Gerlach issued a nunc pro tunc Order questioning whether the Court had jurisdiction over the matter. The Beatie case was 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 challenged a marriage based upon a husband giving birth.[57][58] At the time, Arizona did not legally recognize 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.[59]

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 7 December 2012.[56] 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.[60] 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.[61]

On 31 January 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.[62][63] 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.[64]

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 contained several errors.[62][65] 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. Since the marriage was not considered valid in Arizona alimony was not further enforced, though the division of property was.[66]

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.[67]

Beatie remarried to Amber Beatie and now lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Together they have one child, which she carried.[68][69]

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.[70][71] He also lobbied to pass the state's first Hate Crimes Law[72][73](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.[74]

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.[75][76][77] Sweden's forced sterilization law for transgender people was overturned on December 19, 2012.[78]

Cultural impact[edit]

Beatie has challenged social and legal definitions of what constitutes being a man or a woman.[79][1] People Magazine defines him as a pop culture icon in the magazine's special edition "Pop Culture: 1000 Greatest Moments 1974 - 2011."[80] 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.

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."[9] [81][82]

Film[edit]

The documentary Pregnant Man (2008) documented the final weeks of Beatie's pregnancy and the birth of Susan.[83][84] The documentary was the highest rated show for Discovery Networks for 2008.[85][86][87] The documentary continues to screen worldwide.[88][89]

Short film[edit]

In 2015, French director Jan Caplin wrote and directed the short movie Hippocampe, inspired by Thomas Beatie and his wife's attempts to have a child.[90][91]

Publications[edit]

Shortly after Susan was born, Beatie authored his first book, Labor of Love: The Story of One Man's Extraordinary Pregnancy (2008).[6] 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."[92]

Other Works Include

  • Thomas Beatie, "Labor of Love: Is society ready for this pregnant husband?" The Advocate[4]
  • Book contribution, The New Transsexuals: The Next Step in Human Evolution by George Petros, Thomas Beatie, pp. 34–43[93]
  • Swedish newspaper contribution to Aftonbladet[94]
  • Book contribution, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in the Workplace by Christine Duffy[95]
  • Thomas Beatie, "Dad v. Scorpion," Goodmenproject.com[96]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Barbara Walters Top 10 Fascinating People of 2008[97]
  • Details Magazine: 40 Most Influential Men in the World[98]
  • 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards nominee: The Oprah Winfrey Show, Outstanding Talk Show Episode nominee, "The Pregnant Man": subject Thomas Beatie[99]
  • 2009 Time Magazine: Time 100 Finalist[100]
  • People Magazine: Pop Culture 1000 Greatest Moments 1974 - 2011[101]
  • 2008 People Magazine: 11 Most Shocking Moments[102]
  • Advocate Magazine: People of the Year 2008[103]
  • Time Magazine: The Top 10 Everything of 2008: Top 10 Oddball News Stories: #1 The Pregnant Man[104]
  • Huffington Post: Top 20 Trans Pioneer of 2011[105]
  • Handsome Men (Who Were Born Female)[106]

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External links[edit]