Tuesday June 29, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The World’s First Pregnant Man

On this Day:

In 2008, Thomas Beatie, the world’s first pregnant man, gave birth to a daughter.  Or was he?  He was certainly the first legally recognized man to give birth but there were others who gave birth before him…

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

Assigned female at birth, Beatie came out as a trans man in early 1997. Beatie had gender reassignment surgery in March 2002 and became known as “the pregnant man” after he became pregnant through artificial insemination in 2007. Beatie chose to be pregnant because his wife Nancy was infertile, doing so with cryogenic donated sperm. Beatie has since given birth to four 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.

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.

Beatie writes that he started to self-identify with the male gender at age ten. As a teenager, Beatie was a model and Miss Hawaii Teen USA pageant finalist.

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.

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

Beatie married Nancy Gillespie in Hawaii on February 5, 2003. The couple moved to Bend, Oregon, in 2005. When the two decided to start a family, Beatie chose to carry the child, since Nancy was unable due to a prior hysterectomy. He was able to become pregnant, having retained his female reproductive organs. Beatie suspended testosterone hormone treatment in order to conceive twice with donor sperm, delivering both children without complications.

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

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

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”. Many media outlets treated Beatie’s pregnancy as a “freak show”, according to media scholar Andre Cavalcante. 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.

In April 2008, Beatie made his first television appearance, an hour-long exclusive interview, on the Oprah Winfrey Show. 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.” The Oprah episode received a spike in Nielsen ratings. In the April 14, 2008, edition of People (magazine), Beatie was photographed by Mary Ellen Mark for a six-page story.

Beatie delivered his first child, Susan, on June 29, 2008. Multiple tabloids, magazines, and other news outlets reported the story after paparazzi captured images of the family leaving the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon days later. People’s senior editor, Patrick Rogers, gave an interview to the CBS Early Morning Show about the birth. 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.

On November 13, 2008, journalist Barbara Walters announced on The View that Thomas was expecting his second child, Austin Alexander Beatie. The next day, ABC aired a 20/20 Barbara Walters primetime interview (“Journey of a Pregnant Man”) with the Beaties. 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.

In June 2009, Beatie gave birth to his second child, a son. The couple’s third child, a second son was born in July 2010.

Guinness World Records 2010, named Beatie the “World’s First Married Man to Give Birth”. 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.”

Other TV appearances for Beatie include Larry King Live with Larry King, The View, Good Morning America, Anderson Live with Anderson Cooper, Oprah: Where Are They Now?, and repeat features on The Doctors and Dr. Drew. 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.

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”, and has given keynote speeches at colleges and universities.

Beatie filed for legal separation from his wife Nancy in 2012. Shortly afterward, 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. Nancy was restricted to two-hour supervised visits with the children three times per week. Thomas was awarded temporary sole custody of his three children and ordered to pay alimony to Nancy.

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. 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’s giving birth. 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.

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. Judge Gerlach ordered an Evidentiary Hearing and Oral Argument for which the Transgender Law Center filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Beaties’ marriage, stating that the case could be significant regarding marriage, divorce, and reproductive rights for transgender people in the state of Arizona and around the country. 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.

In 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. 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.

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. The court also ruled to give Nancy joint legal decision-making, physical custody and equal parenting time, ordering Beatie to pay her nearly $240 per month in child support. Since the marriage was not considered valid in Arizona alimony was not further enforced, though the division of property was.

However, in 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.

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

Beatie has challenged social and legal definitions of what constitutes being a man or a woman. People Magazine defines him as a pop culture icon in the magazine’s special edition “Pop Culture: 1000 Greatest Moments 1974 – 2011.” 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 their legal gender post sex-change transition (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

What did the baby call his statistician father? Da-ta!

Second, a Song:

Junior is a 1994 American buddy sci-fi comedy film directed and produced by Ivan Reitman, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson. The film follows Alex Hesse, an Austrian-American scientist who agrees to undergo a male pregnancy from a newly developed drug Expectane.

The film was released in the United States the day before Thanksgiving on November 23, 1994, to lukewarm reception and did not match the box office performance of Reitman’s earlier films starring Schwarzenegger: 1988’s Twins, which also starred DeVito, and 1990’s Kindergarten Cop. Schwarzenegger and Thompson received Golden Globe Award nominations for their performances. The film’s theme song, Patty Smyth’s “Look What Love Has Done” was also recognized, going on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Austrian research geneticist Dr. Alex Hesse (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his OB/GYN colleague Dr. Larry Arbogast (Danny DeVito) invent a fertility drug, “Expectane”, designed to reduce the chances of a miscarriage. With the drug unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration, Hesse and Arbogast are unable to test the drug and cannot continue their research. Head of the review board Noah Banes (Frank Langella) informs Arbogast that while the FDA denied human experimentation, the team has received a donation from geneticist Dr. Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson) from the ovum cryogenics department.

Hesse plans to start over in Europe, but Arbogast suggests they can still perform the experiment, with Canadian firm Lyndon Pharmaceutical offering to fund them provided they find a volunteer. Hesse questions the likelihood of a pregnant woman taking an unapproved drug, but Arbogast suggests omitting the volunteer’s gender and convinces Hesse to impregnate himself with an ovum codenamed “Junior”.

That night, Hesse dreams his potential offspring has his own face. As weeks go by, he complains to Arbogast of sore nipples, and chats incessantly about walks, massages, and naps. Contemplating fatherhood after watching television commercials, Hesse breaks down sobbing.

When the time comes for Hesse to end the experiment and release the results to Lyndon Pharmaceutical, Hesse continues taking the drug and decides to carry the pregnancy to term; initially annoyed, Arbogast agrees to keep it hidden. Hesse develops a relationship with Reddin, and reveals his pregnancy to Angela, Arbogast’s ex-wife.

Reddin is stunned and angry when it is revealed that the “Junior” ovum is hers, and Banes attempts to take credit for the experiment. Disguised as a woman, Hesse hides in a retreat for expectant mothers, blaming his masculine appearance on anabolic steroid use. Reddin visits, telling Hesse it does not matter who is pregnant because he is the father and she is the mother. Arbogast reveals the experiment’s data to Lyndon Pharmaceutical, who agree to partner with Hesse and Arbogast.

Hesse experiences abdominal pain from the start of labor, calling for Arbogast and Reddin. As Reddin rushes to the resort, Arbogast tells a fellow doctor to prep for an emergency caesarean section. A hospital staffer overhears and alerts Banes, who summons the media and the University Dean in hopes of taking credit for the world’s first pregnant man. Warned by a colleague, Arbogast creates a decoy for Hesse to allow a private c-section. When Arbogast arrives, the media only see the pregnant Angela, discrediting Banes who is fired by the Dean.

Reddin and Hesse enter the hospital by the fire escape, and he has an emergency c-section. Sent to keep Angela company in the waiting room, Reddin finds her in labor and becomes her delivery coach. Hesse gives birth to a healthy baby girl, and Arbogast announces the arrival to Reddin, who is assisting Angela with contractions. Reddin leaves Angela with Arbogast and rushes to see the baby, whom she and Hesse name Junior. Arbogast delivers Angela’s child and they reconcile to raise the boy, Jake, as their own.

The movie ends with the families on vacation, celebrating the birthdays of Junior and Jake. Reddin is pregnant with their second child, and Angela mentions wanting another baby but not wishing to endure pregnancy again; they all try to convince a reluctant Arbogast to carry the child.

Patricia Smyth (born June 26, 1957) is an American singer and songwriter. She first came into national attention with the rock band Scandal and went on to record and perform as a solo artist. Her distinctive voice and new wave image gained broad exposure through video recordings aired on cable music video channels such as MTV. Her debut solo album Never Enough was well received, and generated a pair of Top 100 hits. In the early 1990s she reached the Top 10 with the hit single “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” a duet with Don Henley of Eagles. She performed and co-wrote with James Ingram the song “Look What Love Has Done” for the 1994 motion picture Junior. The work earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. Smyth married retired tennis player John McEnroe in 1997 (per Wikipedia).

Here is Patty Smyth performing “Look What Love Had Done” set to scenes from the movie “Junior”. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“My all-time favourite political promise – more a boast than a promise, really – came from former Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau, who said in the lead-up to the 1976 Olympics, ‘The Olympics can no more lose money than a man can have a baby.'” – Martin O’Malley 

[Editor: “The 1976 Montreal Olympics, which initially had a $300 million budget, ended up with a staggering $1.5 billion deficit, mainly due to poor planning and corruption. It saddled the Canadian city with a debt that is not due to be paid off until 2006. To make matters even worse, the Olympic Stadium was not completed on time.” per https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/3511/1976-montreal

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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