An Arizona judge ruled Friday that a transgender man who birthed three children could not divorce his wife because there was insufficient evidence indicating that he was male when he and his wife wed, and therefore the nine-year union is invalid because Arizona does not recognize same-sex marriage.
Thomas Beatie sparked a media firestorm nearly five years ago when he became known as the "pregnant man" after he gave birth to a girl, the first child of three with his wife, Nancy Beatie.
Beatie was born a female but underwent transgender surgery to become a man, taking testosterone hormone supplements beginning in 1997 and undergoing a double-mastectomy in 2012, as well as undergoing psychological treatment for his change.
Beatie, 39, kept his female reproductive organs and his womb, however, and decided to conceive his three children because his wife was reproductively-challenged.
The Beaties were married in Hawaii, which recognizes same-sex marriage, in 2003, and eventually relocated with their three children to Arizona.
Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach ruled Friday that the Beaties could not divorce in the state of Arizona not because of Mr. Beatie's transsexual lifestyle, but rather because the couple could not provide proper records to prove that Mr. Beatie was a man when he married his wife Nancy in Hawaii.
"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," Judge Gerlach wrote in his ruling, according to The Associated Press.
"Thus, by urging that Arizona law equates a double mastectomy with a sex change operation, the Parties' contention, if adopted, 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," Judge Gerlach added.
Mr. Beatie was reportedly surprised by the court's decision on Friday, and his lawyer has indicated that he and his client plan to appeal the ruling.
Beatie told the Arizona Republic in December: "I'm clearly a man: socially, legally, psychologically, physically – the whole ball of wax."
Judge Gerlach did rule on Friday that the Beaties share joint authority over their three children, and Mr. Beatie must pay $240 per month for child support to Nancy Beatie.
Beatie was born Tracy Lehuanani Lagondino in Oahu, Hawaii, but had his name changed to Thomas when he began to be transgender.
Beatie reportedly had his birth certificate in Hawaii changed to indicate he was male, as well as his driver's license, but he halted his testosterone treatments so that he may conceive his three children via donated sperm.
The Beaties' children are now 4, 3, and 2 years old.
The transgender man told CNN host Anderson Cooper in November that although the court proceedings for his divorce were long, he wanted his marriage to be validated through a proper divorce, rather than an annulment.
"It did happen and I was married to Nancy for almost 10 years, we paid taxes, we bought and sold homes, we started a family together and I want that to be validated," Beatie told Cooper at the time.
Now that Beatie is separated from his former partner Nancy, he reportedly has intentions to marry his new girlfriend, his children's daycare director, Amber Nichols.
Beatie told The Mirror in September 2012 that he hopes to have more children with his new girlfriend.
"It's just about which one of us would be more successful at having a baby," Beatie told The Mirror.
"It's even possible we could both be pregnant at the same time. Amber suggested we both try to get pregnant and whoever gets there first goes through with it," Beatie added.
Beatie has reportedly been advised by his surgeons and doctors not to conceive any more children due to the advanced stages of his testosterone treatments and to the fact that he is biologically male, except for his reproductive organs.