Meet Thomas Beatie, The World’s First Pregnant Man

A couple of decades ago, many people thought this would never be possible. But, thanks to the incredible advancements of modern medicine and the growing understanding of people who suffer from gender dysphoria (in which the assigned sex and gender do not match the person’s gender identity, and the person is transgender), have allowed people to be able to transition into the gender they identify with. Today, we’ll learn the story of Thomas Beatie and his journey to becoming the first pregnant man in the world.

#22. How It Began

Thomas was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, as a girl named Tracy Lagondino. But, he discovered at a very young age that he never felt very girly to begin with. As he grew older, he refused to wear dresses, a decision that took his parents by surprise. When explaining his feelings growing up, he said: “I felt rough and tumble. I didn’t like frilly stuff”. To him, it was all clear from the beginning.

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Transgender people usually discover their gender dysphoria at a very young age. For example, when they refuse to wear certain clothes or want to play with toys that usually don’t match their gender. By the age of ten, Thomas already identified as male. This was difficult in his family, however, as Thomas’ father refused to accept him for who he was, and forced him to do typical girly stuff.

#21. Gender Dysphoria

Gender Dysphoria is a condition characterized as the distress a person experiences as a result of the sex and gender they were assigned at birth. Symptoms are visible at a young age, where a child may feel disgust at their own genitalia, social isolation from their peers, anxiety, loneliness and depression as a result of the conflict between their gender identity and their biological gender.

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The description fits perfectly with Thomas. Ever since he was little, he was uncomfortable identifying himself as a girl. This is usually a difficult situation for the parents, who don’t really know how to proceed in those circumstances. Thomas was supported by his mother, but not by his father. Unfortunately, his mother passed away, and he had to live with his father, who didn’t want to accept him as transgender.

#20. Beauty Pageants

After his mother passed away, Thomas was taken care of by his father alone. He didn’t like the fact that Thomas didn’t want to be a girl, so he encouraged him to pursue a modeling career and signed him up to beauty pageants in the hopes that it would bring his feminine side out. Although Thomas wasn’t very happy about it, he was actually very successful and got pretty far with his career.

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He entered the Miss Teen Hawaii USA pageant and came out as a finalist. His beauty and charisma wowed the judges and the audience, but deep inside, Thomas was uncomfortable the whole time:

I remember feeling uncomfortable on stage. Back then I did not see an attractive young girl. Putting on makeup, I felt like I was putting on a costume” he said in an interview.

#19. His True Passion

The glitz and glamour of beauty pageants and modeling weren’t what Thomas wanted. Luckily, he found an escape in martial arts and weightlifting. He often went to the gym and took up karate. After a few years, he got his black belt in Taekwondo. This allowed him to feel more confident and comfortable in his own skin. He slowly began to wear male clothing, but still lived as a woman.

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While still being Tracy, he began his first serious relationship with a woman. When he was 24, he started his transition through testosterone hormone therapy. His then-girlfriend, Nancy, stood by his side and was a key player in Thomas’ transition. Her support and encouragement helped him go through the transition from a female beauty queen, to a male martial artist.

#18. The Transition

Although medicine has come a long way, transitioning from one gender to another is no easy task. Testosterone therapy comes in the form of patches, pills, and injections, and has to be administered over the course of several years. This triggers many changes in the body, such as having much more hair and the deepening of the voice. Of course, this is the desired effect that patients look forward to, but it is still hard to get used to.

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Another effect of testosterone treatments is that it causes the redistribution of body fat, as men and women carry weight differently. It also may cause mood changes, a boost of libido, oilier skin, and increase bone density. But after all these changes, the treatment allows those who were biologically born as women be reborn into the men they have always wanted to be, and this was the case of Thomas. However, there are some risks that come with this treatment…

#17. That’s Only Tthe Beginning

The long-term use of hormone therapy may potentially cause liver damage and other undesirable effects. And, of course, it is only one part of the transition process. Many people are satisfied with this treatment, but others also undergo some type of surgery to complete their transition. There are many procedures that can be made in order to make one’s body more similar to that of the desired gender, and Thomas got one of them done.

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There are minor surgeries that can be done to make the face look more masculine or feminine, but there are also bigger and riskier surgeries that people may get done. For example, gender reassignment surgery, where the genitalia is transformed into that of the opposite gender. Those who transition into a male, like Thomas, may also get their breast tissue removed, and the remaining tissue sculpted into a more masculine form, which is what Thomas got done.

#16. A Big Decision

Following this procedure, Thomas decided not to undergo a gender reassignment surgery, as many transgender people do. In the eyes of the law, people do not need to get a surgery done in order to change their gender, so he legally became a man and changed his name after the surgery. On that day, Tracy left this world, and he was reborn as Thomas, while still retaining his female reproductive organs.

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Thanks to the United States law, he became a man in the eyes of the government and switched his identity on his passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, social security index, and all other legal documents. This was a huge step for him, and it allowed him to truly be happy for the first time in his life. He shared his happiness with his girlfriend Nancy, and the two got engaged.

#15. Trying for a Baby

A year after legally becoming a man, Thomas married his long-time girlfriend Nancy in a beautiful ceremony in Hawaii. Nancy already had two children of her own from a previous relationship, but the couple still wanted to have more. The problem was that, due to a hysterectomy Nancy underwent to deal with her endometriosis, she was unable to bear children. So, the couple was faced with a tough decision.

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Since Thomas still had female reproductive organs, he decided he would be the one to carry the children. To do so, however, he had to stop taking his hormonal medication, as testosterone prevents people from having their period and, consequently, having babies. It took Thomas four months to start ovulating again, and he was ready to take the second biggest step of his life.

#14. Searching for a Donor

The couple needed a sperm donor to inseminate Thomas. Unfortunately, because of Thomas’ story, a total of nine physicians refused to help them. Prejudice came in the way of the couple’s happiness, but it wasn’t enough to stop them. They were determined to find a donor, with or without the help of a doctor, and luckily, they did. They actually found the guy online!

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The insemination took place at home, and surprisingly, it worked. Not long after the home insemination, Thomas was indeed pregnant. And, as his baby bump started to grow, the couple’s story became worldwide news. It all began with an article in LGBT magazine The Advocate, where the couple opened up about their journey to become parents. It was written by Thomas himself and explained what it was like to go through his experience.

#13. A Media Whirlwind

After hearing his story in detail, the whole thing doesn’t sound crazy at all. But back then, Thomas’ story went viral and had people all over the world sharing their thoughts on the matter. He sparked a discussion in the media that never took place before, and of course, faced both positive and negative criticism. The picture of his pregnant belly, in particular, caused a media whirlwind.

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Although he had to endure a lot of criticism and even death threats, a large number of people was supportive and happy that a debate about gender conventions were taking place. Labeled as The Pregnant Man, Thomas was interviewed many times and even made an appearance on Oprah. Despite the criticism, he and Nancy never regretted going public with their story.

#12. The Birth

Hiding a pregnant man is like hiding an 800-pound gorilla.Nancy and I wanted to tell our story from our own mouths before it got out” Thomas told ABC’s Barbara Walters.

Indeed, even if he hadn’t come out with his story, people would have found out anyway!

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Their healthy baby girl was born in June 2008, and was named Susan. Although the birth of their long-awaited daughter filled them with joy, it came with some legal difficulties. The state of Oregon didn’t want to recognize Thomas as the father and Nancy as the mother, because it had been Thomas who carried and gave birth to the child. So, on top of having to take care of a newborn, the couple had to fight the state.

#11. Success

In the law of Oregon, the person who births the child is automatically listed as their mother. However, after a tough legal fight, Nancy and Thomas had their names switched on Susan’s birth certificate. Unfortunately, Thomas couldn’t be named the father:

The woman down at Vital Statistics in Portland decided to change it to say Parent/Parent, which is for same-sex couples in a domestic partnership,” he said in an interview.

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This wasn’t the only difficulty the couple faced. Since Nancy is not related to Susan biologically, she had to apply for adoption of the child in order to secure her parental rights in the event of her and Thomas separating. Luckily, the whole situation turned out just fine, and the family finally began to live a normal life just like any other family. But it wasn’t long before the couple decided to go through the whole process once again.

#10. The Second Baby

Not long after Susan came into the world, the couple decided they wanted to enlarge their family once again. Thomas decided not to take testosterone anymore, at least until they were done bringing babies into the world. Less than a year after the first birth, Thomas got pregnant again and went through the same process as before, only this time, the couple knew all the challenges they would have to face.

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Austin Alexander, a healthy baby boy, was born in the summer of 2009. The couple was overjoyed, and decided to go through the whole thing yet again! They didn’t waste any time after Austin was born, and got to work soon after. The couple had a total of four children and wanted to have the fifth one by 2010. In the meantime, Thomas earned worldwide recognition as the world’s first pregnant man and entered a huge record book…

#9. The Guinness World Records

Although he had his first baby in 2008, the Guinness World Records officially recognized Thomas as the World’s First Married Man to Give Birth in 2010. That same year, the happy couple welcomed their third baby, Jensen James. The big family decided to move from Oregon to Arizona, which took a toll on the relationship, as moving from one state to another with a lot of children is nothing but stressful.

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When the couple officially moved to Phoenix, Arizona, things started to become more complicated. The couple had to care for five kids, two of whom were toddlers, and one was a small baby. The relationship between Thomas and Nancy slowly began to deteriorate, and it culminated in divorce in 2012. But the unique situation of the couple actually set a legal precedent, as no court had to deal with such a divorce before.

#8. The Divorce

It is very common for courts to give the custody of the children to the mother when a couple gets divorced, but in the case of Nancy and Thomas, the courts weren’t sure about how to proceed. The fact that it had been Thomas who gave birth to the children made things complicated through the custody battle. Under the law of the state of Arizona, only women could give birth.

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However, if Thomas was found to be a woman in the eyes of the law, the marriage between Thomas and Nancy wouldn’t be recognized, as Arizona didn’t allow same-sex marriages at the time. And, if the state didn’t recognize the marriage, then naturally they would not be able to request a divorce. The couple had to fight for their rights in court once again, and it wasn’t easy.

#7. The Custody Battle

The couple and their legal teams continued to fight their cases before the court, and in 2013, a trial took place to determine the custody terms of the three children. Luckily for everyone involved, the court gave joint custody and equal parenting time to Thomas and Nancy, and their property was split equally. The marriage was indeed recognized, and they were granted a divorce.

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The full divorce was granted after the couple took the matter before a Court of Appeals in 2014, which declared the couple’s marriage had been valid. This allowed the couple to finally move on with their lives, and focus on raising their beautiful children. Thomas had already met someone new before the divorce took place: Amber Nichols, who was actually the preschool director at his children’s school.

#6. A New Beginning

The couple got together in 2013 and stood by each other’s side through Thomas’ divorce. When the divorce was finalized, they started planning their own wedding. It was their dream to have a big, spectacular wedding, and having all the kids be involved in the process. Luckily, Amber got along with Thomas’ children very well and saw them every day at school.

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The media continued to follow Thomas’ journey as a father, and in 2016, he told the Daily Mail:

Almost as soon as Amber and I got together, Susan started asking when we were getting married. She was definitely the wedding planner. She had very definite ideas of what she wanted. And it was then that I started dreaming of a big white wedding.

#5. The Big Day

Two years after his divorce was finalized, Thomas finally tied the knot with his new love, Amber. The couple got married in February 2016 and had a lavish ceremony at Boojum Tree Hidden Gardens, a glamorous venue in Phoenix, Arizona. When asked about it, Thomas said:

It is so beautiful, full of palm trees and waterfalls. We married in front of a lily pad pond with a fountain.”

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Although he had had a happy marriage with Nancy, Thomas never felt the way he felt for Amber. His second wedding was the happiest day of his life, and he felt that he was exactly where he was supposed to be.

When Amber walked down the aisleshe took my breath away. I just started crying and I couldn’t stop. It was perfect – even better than I ever imagined.”

#4. A New Chapter in Their Lives

Following their wedding, the couple felt they were ready to have a baby of their own. But this time, it wasn’t so easy. They tried to get pregnant with the help of the same donor, but the attempt sadly ended in a miscarriage. Despite the unfortunate situation, the couple didn’t give up and were determined to make their dream come true. It was vital for them to remain positive.

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We would love a baby together, but if it doesn’t happen, so be it. Amber’s granddaughter Lily lives with us too and makes our family complete. It can be noisy and chaotic… but we love it.” He told the Daily Mail.

Indeed, the couple already had a full house, but they still wanted to add another member.

#3. Baby No. 4

It took the couple two full years, but they were finally able to get pregnant in 2018. Their baby boy, Jackson, was born in August, and the couple made an appearance on British daytime TV show This Morning to introduce Jackson to the world. However, something was different this time. It had been Amber who carried the child this time around.

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But Thomas revealed that he hadn’t ruled out the option of carrying a fourth child in the future. However, the situation would be completely different, because, before the birth of Jackson, Thomas underwent gender reassignment surgery. Although he kept his uterus, his genitalia was turned male, so he wouldn’t be able to give birth naturally.

#2. A Big Decision

If Thomas decides to carry a child once more, he would have to give birth through a C-section. “I wouldn’t want to tear anything unnecessarily,” he said. The couple has frozen embryos, so the option is always there. The couple is more than busy, however, with a total of four children, plus Amber’s granddaughter in the house, so maybe five is enough for now.

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It was hard for him to decide to get the gender reassignment surgery, as it is an obstacle for his ability to get pregnant, but after giving birth three times, he felt ready to fully complete his transition into a man after all these years. And he doesn’t regret any of it. He also started his hormone therapy again, which prevents him from ovulating.

#1. The End

The year 2018 marked the ten-year anniversary of his first pregnancy and his consequential rise to worldwide fame. Looking back, Thomas said he has no regrets and is happy because his actions had raised awareness for other transgender people wanting their own families. He brought this discussion into the light, and allowed other transgender men to pursue their dream of forming a family of their own.

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When asked about the picture of himself and his pregnant belly that went viral, he said:

I have zero regrets. That picture… definitely sparked conversation, which is very important. There are people like me and people like me do want families. It’s an image people aren’t used to seeing but they will continue to see it and it’s not something to hide, it’s something to be proud about.”

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    Angeles

    24 - Argentina.

    She's a journalist and a website developer based in New York.

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