When Men Get Pregnant Who Gets Custody?

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Tuesday, January 22, 2013.

One thing about child custody cases, they never get boring. Take the new case out of Phoenix that the Arizona Republic is reporting on. An Arizona judge is deciding whether he has jurisdiction to grant a divorce to Mr. Thomas Beatie. Tom’s an ordinary man except for one thing: he is also the birthmother of the married couple’s child. That’s right, the biological dad is also the biological mother.

Tom was born a woman named Tracy in Hawaii. Apparently, Tracy was pretty good looking too, as she participated in beauty pageants and worked as a model. Tracy began undergoing testosterone therapy, and after psychological testing, was “determined to have male gender identification.” The first of the surgeries was performed in 2002. After that Tracy’s birth certificate and driver’s license changed, and six months later, Tracy became Tom.

Tom married his girlfriend Nancy, and because Nancy couldn’t have children, Tom had the child. When news leaked out, Tom became an instant hint as “The Pregnant Man,” appearing on Oprah, Barbara Walters, Letterman etc. He also wrote a book, and is a motivational speaker for transgender rights.

This term, the United States Supreme Court will hear two cases involving same-sex marriage, although those rulings may come too late for Tom’s case. The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (aka DOMA), under which the federal government is forbidden to acknowledge same-sex marriages even if they are legal in the couple’s state of residence. Another challenge centers on California law, which previously granted same-sex marriages, but was later amended to revoke those rights.

Transgender cases are not very common, but they are turning up more frequently, and pose challenging issues. We shall see whether in Arizona the best interest of the child test impacts consideration of sexual identity.