Trystan Reese is a transgender man who just gave birth to a healthy baby boy. He told us about his pregnancy—and why his story isn't so out of the ordinary.
When Trystan Reese approached his partner, Biff Chaplow, about becoming pregnant with the couple's baby, he was met with resistance. Reese, a transgender man, had seen friends lead healthy pregnancies as trans men, and he knew he such a scenario was possible—but Chaplow harbored some valid concerns.
"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.”
But the couple did their research, and in doing so, they realized transgender men can (and do!) lead perfectly healthy pregnancies. And so that's exactly what Reese did: He gave birth to the couple’s son, Leo, a few weeks ago.
While Reese’s hormonal therapy gave him a beard and a deeper voice, his uterus and ovaries continued to function. The process of getting off testosterone hormones wasn’t so different from what most women face when they stop taking birth control before conception...and about five months later, Reese was pregnant.
He described his experience as a ‘textbook pregnancy,’ complete with fatigue, nausea,third-trimester discomfort, and eventually a healthy delivery.
“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,” Reese 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 insisted that he’s not a pioneer for this issue—that transgender men carry out successful pregnancies more often than people tend to think. The fact remains, though: Terminology surrounding pregnancy is rarely inclusive of the trans community, and Reese has made peace with that.
"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.”
Trystan is a transgender man, which means he was born female and raised as a girl. He transitioned via hormones around 14 years ago, retaining his reproductive anatomy. After adopting two children, he and his partner Biff wanted to grow their family. So they consulted with doctors and found out that it would be perfectly healthy for Trystan to stop taking hormones, just like if a woman were to stop taking hormonal birth control, and conceive a child naturally. Which is what they did! Trystan is 36 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby boy, who is due in July. #thisistranspregnancy #transgender #lgbtportland #lgbtq #pride
Reese and Chaplow were parents before Reese’s pregnancy—they adopted Chaplow’s biological niece and nephew—and understand they have a non-traditional setup. But Reese also understands that the concept of normalcy is ever-evolving.
“I understand that we are not a typical or traditional family,” he said. “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 used 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.”