Arizona appeals court allows transgender man's divorce to proceed

[JURIST] The Arizona Court of Appeals [official website] has ruled that a transgender man, who was legally married to a woman, may pursue a divorc [opinion, PDF] from his wife within the Arizona court system. Thomas Beatie was born female but underwent medical procedures to change his sex and amend his birth certificate to recognize him as male. Thomas then married Nancy Beatie [AP report] and carried three children with her. The family relocated to Arizona, where Thomas sought to pursue a divorce. The family court hearing the case found that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction, because Arizona does not recognize marriages between two people of the same gender. Since Thomas gave birth to the family's children, and Nancy was female, the court concluded that the marriage between Thomas and Nancy was a same-sex marriage. The Court of Appeals found that Arizona is obligated to recognize 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. The court concluded that since the marriage between Thomas and Nancy was one that Arizona could recognize, the lower court was incorrect to dismiss the divorce case.

The rights and identity of transgender individuals is a topic of legal debate around the world. In July Italy's Constitutional court ruled that an Italian law that annuls a marriage once a partner undergoes a sex change operation is against the national interest [JURIST report] because the couple may desire to stay together. In June a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio mandated the permanent reinstatement of hormone treatments [JURIST report] for a transgender Ohio prison inmate who complained about losing her breast tissue, growing facial hair, and suffering other related symptoms after treatments were stopped. In April the Supreme Court of India issued a ruling recognizing the country's large transgender population as a legal third gender [JURIST report]. In so ruling the court ordered that the government ensure that transgender people are not discriminated against and are eligible for government jobs and education in the same way as it does with other minority groups. It also ordered that the government take steps to promote awareness and to ensure that they are provided with proper medical treatment and public facilities. In February Amnesty International [advocacy website] asserted that European countries are violating human rights [JURIST report] of people trying to change their legal gender and discriminating against transgender individuals in a report [text, PDF] entitled "The State Decides Who I Am."

 

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