HuffPost UK: I Didn't Think Being A Pregnant Man Was A Big Deal. Then I Went Viral.
This blog is an adapted transcript of a story delivered by Trystan Angel Reese with The Moth at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church in New York, on 8 February 2018
It’s a bright spring morning in the middle of the backwoods of Oregon, and I am volunteering to cut trail with my partner Biff. He is just ahead of me on the path, and just suddenly I know that it’s time for me to ask the questions that’s been building up between us for months now.
“Hey, Biff, do you want to have a baby?”
Silence. He turns around, and I see that he is laughing at me. “This is the stupidest idea you have ever had. No, I don’t want to have a baby.”
In his defence, we had our hands full. We were actually already parents. One year into our relationship, his sister couldn’t take care of her kids, and they came to stay with us for a little while. A little while became a long while, became forever, and our adoption of Hailey and Riley had just become final. They were five and seven, and we were just starting to get that taste of freedom that comes when you have big kids.
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For Biff Chaplow and Trystan Reese, becoming parents was a lot like coming out. "It's a slow process — and you kind of know it's coming," Chaplow explains to POPSUGAR. "You get to a point, usually long after it happens, where you realize, 'I am a parent.'"
Reese agrees. "It's similar in that there's a lot of self-doubt," he says. "Is this the right path for us? Am I going to be happy on this path? I kept expecting people to say, 'What? You can't be parents!' And all we got was support."
While this call to parenting may sound atypical in how unpredictable it was, that's because it truly was: Chaplow and Reese — a cisgender gay man and transgender gay man, respectively — had only been dating for a year before they adopted Chaplow's sister's children to protect them from entering the foster system. Riley was 3 years old and Hailey was 1 year old at the time — they are now 10 and 7 — and once the papers were signed, Chaplow and Reese famously became "accidental gay parents."
Their unlikely path in parenthood was just beginning, however. The duo decided to share their lives as queer parents online via their website, Biff and I, and their Instagram. In 2017, they opened a new chapter in their story when Reese became pregnant and gave birth to their son, Leo. The experience sparked a lot of questions from the general public, but Reese and Chaplow point out that their journey isn't unheard of.
"It's not a special story," Reese laughs, recalling how many transgender fathers he knows. "But we forgot, truly, how divided this country is and how many spheres of reality there are. For most people in this world, they don't live in the sphere of reality where transgender men have babies. That was a surprise that people were so blown away — so positively and so negatively."
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For the past four years, Trystan Reese has lived in Portland, Oregon, with his husband, Biff Chaplow and their two adopted children (Chaplow's biological niece and nephew). Their day-to-day lives are, for the most part, textbook ordinary — school, work, playdates, grocery-store run, repeat. The kids call Trystan “Daddy” and Biff “Dada.”
Recently, Trystan and Biff began to discuss the idea of expanding their family. Trystan, a 34-year-old trans man, would carry the couple's first biological child. After Trystan got pregnant, the couple made the decision to share part of their journey online, but they did not plan on their story goingviral. While a trans man carrying a child is by no means a medical miracle, and Trystan is certainly not the first to do so in the public eye — think Thomas Beatie on Oprah in 2008 — their story has still attracted attention, both negative and positive.
We visited Trystan and Biff at their home in Portland when Trystan was nine months pregnant — on his due date, in fact — to hear more about why they chose to share their story online, what it means to be a trans parent, and what the future holds for queer families like theirs.The following account has been collected from various in-person and phone interviews leading up to the birth of Trystan and Biff’s son Leo.