My Take

The man who gave birth to confusion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 April, 2013, 3:29am

If American Judge Douglas Gerlach had called this case the "mother of all confusion", you'd find it hard to disagree. On the surface, it was just a divorce. But the story unravelled like no other.

Thomas Beatie was seeking a divorce from his wife, Nancy, and a decision on the custody of their three children.

But the problem was Thomas Beatie was born a woman - Tracy Lehuanani Lagondino - in Oahu, Hawaii. She underwent a few operations and testosterone hormone therapy to become a man. Then he got a Hawaiian court to approve his name as Thomas and got a new driver's licence that identified him as a man.

Then, as men do, he met a woman and married her. But soon they discovered Nancy couldn't have children. Like a man, Thomas volunteered - to carry the burden.

Despite the physical changeover, Thomas had retained female reproductive organs, as he says most transgender people do. With donor sperm, he was able to give birth to three children.

He became a sort of celebrity as the "pregnant man". His book, Labour Of Love: The Story of One Man's Extraordinary Pregnancy, features on its cover a shirtless Thomas sporting facial hair with a hand over his bare, pregnant belly.

But that was a while ago. Now Thomas Beatie and his family live in Arizona and he wants a divorce. His woes started last year when he couldn't find an authority that could define him both as a man and as someone who gave birth.

Last week, the judge decided he also couldn't rule Thomas was a man when he married Nancy as there was insufficient evidence. Or, in other words, the court didn't have the evidence to show the man who married Nancy in Hawaii was a man who can also give birth.

And as Thomas gave birth to the children and Arizona did not approve same-sex marriage, his marriage to Nancy was not legal. So there was no point in asking for divorce, the judge ruled.

If you're shaking your head, just think about the confusion of the children whose father is actually their mother.

The judge decided Thomas Beatie was the person wearing pants in the house and must pay child support, but as Nancy was not legally married, she is not entitled to alimony.

Or is it the other way around?


Alex Lo is on leave