PHOENIX – An appeals court in Arizona has ruled that a woman who began converting her appearance into a man over a decade ago may be granted a divorce, overturning a lower court ruling that denied the proceedings over confusion whether the woman was a man when she married.
As previously reported, in 1997, Tracy Lehuanani Lagondino began undergoing testosterone treatments and changed her name to Thomas Beatie. In 2002, she underwent a double mastectomy and chest reconstruction, but decided to keep her female reproductive organs and womb.
In 2003, Lagondino tied the knot with her partner Nancy in Hawaii, and as Nancy was unable to conceive, Lagondino underwent in vitro fertilization. The two now have three children, ages 4, 3 and 2, and live in Arizona.
During the time that Lagondino was pregnant, she became known across America as “the pregnant man,” appearing on national broadcasts such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live. She also released a book entitled Labor Of Love: The Story of One Man’s Extraordinary Pregnancy, which displayed the pregnant woman with a beard.
However, in 2012, Lagondino began seeking a divorce from her partner, but found that difficulty finding a judge that would recognize the relationship as valid. Arizona law prohibits homosexual unions, and as Langondino “married” while still having female reproductive parts, her relationship is considered homosexual and not heterosexual. She disagrees.
In March of last year, Maricopa County Family Judge Douglas Gerlach ruled that the divorce cannot be granted because the nuptials were not valid in the first place. He explained that in the eyes of the law, Langondino is perceived as still being a woman at the time of the “wedding,” unless she can prove otherwise.
“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 [Lagondino] was a transsexual male when they were issued their marriage license,” Gerlach wrote.
He also took issue with considering Lagondino as being a man as childbirth is only possible for females.
But on Wednesday, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that Lagondino may proceed with the divorce, stating the case was not about same-sex nuptials in Arizona, but rather “whether the laws of the state of Arizona allow a marriage, lawfully entered into in another state, between two persons the foreign state formally recognized at the time of the marriage as male and female, to be dissolved.”
“As the Beaties’ Hawaii marriage was lawfully entered in Hawaii and is not deemed void by Arizona law, the marriage is valid within this state,” wrote Judge Kenton D. Jones, appointed to the bench by Gov. Jan Brewer.
The court also found that although Lagondino completed paperwork to change her gender in Hawaii, whether or not her subsequent pregnancies posed an issue as to the legality of being considered male was irrelevant to the case.
“Therefore, the possibility of Thomas giving birth to children did not preclude him from legally amending his birth certificate under the plain language of the Hawaii statute,” Jones stated. “Further, there is no apparent basis in law or fact for the proposition that in the event Thomas gave birth after having modified his gender designation, it would have abrogated his ‘maleness,’ as reflected upon the amended birth certificate.”
Lagondino appeared on Anderson Cooper Live with her new girlfriend Amber last November to discuss the situation after a previous judge had also denied the divorce.
“It’s very frustrating,” she said, “I mean, how would you feel if the judge told you that you’re not a man? I live my life. I know who I am … [and] someone’s opinion is not going to change that.”
But others have found the situation to be disturbing.
“These people are turning America into Sodom and Gomorrah. What will these poor children be like? Our world is getting sicker every day,” one commenter lamented. “The last chapter of the Bible is unfolding before our very eyes.”