"I'm OK being a man who has a uterus and has the capacity and capability of carrying a baby. I don't feel like it makes me any less of a man," he said.
It was a bright spring morning in the middle of the backwoods of Oregon when Trystan Reese decided to pop the question to his partner Biff Chaplow. "Hey, Biff, do you want to have a baby?" he asked. Reese — a transgender man — had seen dozens of trans men have babies in "a healthy and responsible way" and knew that it could be possible for him too. Chaplow, however, had some valid concerns. For starters, he was really worried about Reese's safety, navigating the world as a pregnant man. "Initially he was pretty hesitant about the idea," Reese told Parents. "In fact, I believe the words he used were 'absolutely not, this is the dumbest idea you've ever had.' Mostly he was worried for my safety—what it would be like for a pregnant man navigating the world, both medically and socially."
Chaplow eventually came around and the couple — who adopted Chaplow's niece and nephew in 2011 — "met with the best medical team we could find to find out if it was possible to do safely," Reese told CNN. He stopped taking testosterone hormones to prepare his body for the pregnancy — a process not so different from when women stop taking birth control to conceive — and about five months later, two lines appeared on his pregnancy test. "I was overjoyed and elated," he said. "A lightness came over me."
Reese described his experience as a "textbook pregnancy," complete with all the "gross stuff... the embarrassing stuff" that comes with carrying a child and eventually a healthy delivery when he gave birth to his son, Leo, in July 2017. "The conception part just happened, the two of us at home, the old-fashioned way. I'm really lucky, the people at Kaiser [Permanente] have worked really hard on their trans competency. I received incredibly respectful, knowledgeable, competent care throughout my entire prenatal process," he said. "I told my doctor 'it's my goal to be the most boring patient you've ever seen.' He, of course, laughed because I'm a pregnant man."
Reese, who was assigned the female at birth, documented his pregnancy journey on Facebook where he once spoke about what drove him to carry a baby. "I think my body is awesome. I feel like it's a gift to have been born with the body that I did, and I made the necessary changes so that I could keep living in it, both through hormones and through other body modifications," he explained in a video he posted online. "I'm OK with my body being a trans body. I'm OK being a man who has a uterus and has the capacity and capability of carrying a baby. I don't feel like it makes me any less of a man. I just happen to be a man who is able to carry a baby."
While it wasn't lost on Reese that the terminology surrounding pregnancy is rarely inclusive of the trans community, he explained that he has made peace with it. "It doesn't bother me," he said. "I just accepted that I'm the one doing something unique. I know that most people, like 99.99 percent of people who give birth are women. I can't really bust into this world and then get mad at them for not really including me. I am the one doing something special. I'm the one who is sort of crashing their party. I thought the respectful thing to do was accept that the language wasn’t always going to include me."
"I understand that we are not a typical or traditional family," Reese continued. "But I think back to when my grandmother was alive, she was the only woman in her entire city who drove a car. Women didn't use to drive cars and guess what? Now women can drive cars. Just because something has always been one way, that doesn't mean that's the right way or the best way or even the way that serves the most number of people. I would invite people to just see the many ways in which family has evolved over time. Look at our family and the love and respect that we have for each other. Continue to be open to thinking about all the different ways kids can come into this world and people can love each other."