Thomas Beatie is widely believed to be the world’s first pregnant man. He gave birth to his daughter in 2008, and two sons quickly followed before his relationship with their mom broke down. However, ten years later Thomas revealed he’d just welcomed his fourth baby.
Thomas was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1974 as Tracy Lagondino. But from an early age, he’d never felt particularly “girly,” and he’d refused to wear dresses. “I felt rough and tumbly. I didn’t like frilly stuff,” he explained to ABC’s Barbara Walters in 2008.
By the age of ten, Thomas had already started to identify as male. However, his family were rocked by tragedy two years later in 1986 when his mother took her own life. And after that, according to Thomas, his father had begun encouraging him to model and take part in beauty pageants.
Thomas’ modeling career was relatively successful, too, and at 14 he even became a finalist in the Miss Teen Hawaii USA competition. However, the typically feminine world of pageants didn’t sit comfortably with the teenager. “I remember feeling uncomfortable on stage,” he told ABC.
Elaborating on his feelings at that time, Thomas added, “Back then I did not see an attractive young girl. Putting on makeup, I felt like I was putting on a costume.” Indeed, the youngster later found an escape at the gym and in martial arts, where he took up karate and became a black belt in Taekwondo.
As he became more comfortable with his identity, Thomas began to wear male clothing. And at 24, while still biologically a woman, he embarked on a lesbian relationship with former bodybuilder Nancy Gillespie. Indeed, the latter stuck by his side as he underwent testosterone hormone treatment to transition into a man.
Testosterone can be administered by patches, pills or injection. And, if taken over the course of several years, it can trigger many bodily changes. One of the first effects users may experience is a deepening voice, making them sound more “masculine.”
Other changes that testosterone can cause include the redistribution of body fat – creating a pattern more similar to that seen in the opposite sex – the growth of facial and body hair and mood changes. The hormone is also believed to boost libido, lead to oilier skin and increase bone density.
However, while testosterone hormonal treatment can bring about changes desirable for masculine transitioning, there are risks. Long term use of the medication may potentially cause liver damage. And what’s more, hormones are only part of the transitioning process.
Many of those undergoing masculine transition, like Thomas, will also have some sort of surgery. With that in mind, he had so-called “top surgery” in March 2002. This common sex reassignment procedure involves removing the breasts and sculpting the remaining tissue into a more masculine form.
Following his operation, Thomas opted not to undergo a sterilization procedure – which is not actually required as part of a sex change in the U.S. As a result, then, he was able to officially become a man in the eyes of the law, while still retaining his female reproductive organs.
And so Thomas went about officially changing his name from Tracy. No longer a woman in the eyes of the government, he was also able to switch the sex markers from female to male on his passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, Social Security index and other legal documents.
Then, a year after legally becoming a man, Thomas tied the knot with Nancy at a ceremony in Hawaii. Nancy, however, already had two children – and since having undergone a hysterectomy to deal with her endometriosis, she was unable to have any more.
But while Nancy didn’t have the option of carrying any more children, Thomas did. So in 2005, after settling into their home in Bend, Oregon, he stopped taking his hormonal medication. And four months later, he got his period, meaning ovulation would soon follow.
Now all the couple needed was a doctor to help them acquire donor sperm, which could then be inseminated into Thomas. But when nine physicians refused to help them, the pair took matters into their own hands by obtaining donor sperm online and inserting it using a syringe.
Not long after the home insemination, Thomas took a test which revealed that he was indeed pregnant. And then, months later – when his bump had begun to show – the couple went public with their story via an article in LGBT magazine The Advocate.
In his self-penned piece, Thomas explained how he was pregnant but also a legally recognized male. A picture of him accompanied the article, showing him fully-bearded with his pregnant belly. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it sparked a media whirlwind.
The astonishing news soon went international, and Thomas become known as “The Pregnant Man.” His story also sparked a debate about gender conventions – but not everyone was sympathetic. In fact, some labelled him a freak and others even threatened his life.
However, despite the onslaught of attention, Thomas never regretted going public with his story. “Hiding a pregnant man is like hiding an 800-pound gorilla,” he told ABC’s Barbara Walters. “Nancy and I wanted to tell our story from our own mouths before it got out.”
Thomas and Nancy welcomed a baby girl named Susan in June 2008. And despite giving birth to the child, the couple insisted that he was her father and Nancy her mother. However, they would have to fight Oregon officials to be officially recognized in this way.
According to state law, the person who births the child is automatically listed as their mother. However, after they complained, Thomas and Nancy had their names switched on Susan’s birth certificate. “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 told ABC.
However, the couple’s difficulties didn’t end there. You see, because Nancy isn’t biologically related to Susan, she would have to officially adopt her. That way, the ex-bodybuilder could secure her parental rights in the event of she and Thomas separating.
Meanwhile, aside from various legal complications, life for Thomas and his family seemed pretty ordinary. Thomas would do the gardening, while Nancy would breastfeed. Soon enough, though, the couple decided that they were ready to add to their brood once more. And just in case, Thomas had opted not to start taking testosterone again after Susan came into the world.
Thomas thus fell pregnant again, and he and Nancy prepared for the arrival of their second child, who was due in the summer of 2009. This time, though, the couple welcomed a boy, Austin Alexander. And just a year later in 2010, another son, Jensen James, came into the world.
It was also in 2010 that Guinness World Records officially recognized Thomas as the “World’s First Married Man to Give Birth.” However, his relationship with Nancy had begun to deteriorate, and in 2012, after moving to Phoenix, Arizona, he filed for separation.
Thomas and Nancy’s subsequent divorce would set a legal precedent, given that no court had ruled over a separation involving a man that had given birth. In the eyes of the law, only women could give birth. And if found as a woman, Thomas’ marriage to Nancy couldn’t be recognized in Arizona because the state, at that time, didn’t issue same sex marriages.
Therefore, if the state didn’t recognize the marriage, then they would be unable to issue a divorce. However, Thomas’ legal team continued to fight his case, and in January 2013 a trial took place to determine the custodial arrangements for his and Nancy’s three children.
In the end, a court gave joint custody and equal parenting time to Thomas and Nancy, and divided their property. A judge also ordered Thomas to pay his ex-wife child support of almost $240 per month. A full divorce was then granted in 2014, after an Arizona Appeals Court declared the couple’s marriage had been valid.
Now, Thomas could finally put his relationship with Nancy behind him. Indeed, prior to his divorce, he had fallen in love with Amber Nichols, the preschool director at his children’s school. And now the couple could finally start planning their own wedding.
In fact, it was Thomas’ dream to throw a big wedding, and his three children and Amber’s granddaughter Lily all got involved with the celebrations. But according to the dad of three, it was his eldest daughter, Susan, who really took the reins when it came to orchestrating the big day.
Thomas described the event to the Daily Mail in 2016. “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.”
Thomas and Amber eventually tied the knot in February 2016 during a lavish ceremony at Boojum Tree Hidden Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona. Speaking of the venue, Thomas later told the Daily Mail, “It is so beautiful, full of palm trees and waterfalls. We married in front of a lily pad pond with a fountain.”
During the ceremony, Thomas had struggled to control his emotions. “When Amber walked down the aisle [she took my breath away],” he added. “I saw the boys and Susan, so excited as a flower girl, and I just started crying and I couldn’t stop. It was perfect – even better than I ever imagined.”
Following Thomas and Amber’s wedding, the newlyweds were keen to have a baby of their own. They had already tried for a baby once, using one of his eggs and the same donor sperm the former used for his other children, but this attempt sadly ended in miscarriage.
But nevertheless, Thomas and Amber vowed to keep on trying and stay positive. As Thomas revealed in an interview with the Daily Mail, “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.”
Two years later, in August 2018 Thomas and Amber appeared on British daytime TV show This Morning with their new son Jackson – whom Amber had carried this time around. However, Thomas revealed that he hadn’t ruled out the option of carrying a fourth child in the future.
“The issue is we still have frozen embryos related to [Jackson], so it’s a big decision we have to make,” Thomas explained while speaking on This Morning. “[Amber] said if I wanted a girl I’d have to do it myself, and I would have to carry it, so I don’t know.”
However, giving birth wouldn’t be as straightforward for Thomas a fourth time around. That’s because he had undergone “bottom surgery,” giving him male genitalia. As a result, he’d need a cesarean if he was to become pregnant again. “I wouldn’t want to tear anything unnecessarily,” he said.
Meanwhile, Thomas’ interview with the Daily Mail had taken place just over ten years after news of his first pregnancy had gone viral. And reflecting on that time in his life, he said he’d had no regrets on posing topless with his bump. Indeed, he claimed his actions had raised awareness for other transgender people wanting their own families.
Thomas explained, “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,” he said. “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.”