Reese and Chaplow documented the pregnancy in blog posts and on social media, hoping to demystify what it means for a ᴛʀᴀɴsɢᴇɴᴅᴇʀ ᴍᴀɴ to give birth and create a new sense of normalcy for people in similar sɪᴛᴜᴀᴛɪᴏɴs.
Their family’s story — and their willingness to go public with it — reflects a shift in public attitudes about pregnancy and parenting in ᴛʀᴀɴsɢᴇɴᴅᴇʀ men as sᴏᴄɪᴀʟ sᴛɪɢᴍᴀs ʜᴀᴠᴇ sᴛᴀʀᴛᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴄʜɪᴘ ᴀᴡᴀʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀᴅᴠᴏᴄᴀᴄʏ ɢʀᴏᴜᴘs ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴄᴀᴍᴘᴀɪɢɴᴇᴅFᴏʀ ɢʀᴇᴀᴛᴇʀ ᴀᴄᴄᴇᴘᴛᴀɴᴄᴇ.
Reese and Chaplow, perhaps more than anything else, want to make one thing clear: they are not the first. Far from it.
“People get the idea that this was some experiment that we embarked on,” Reese said, adding that he watched friends go through the same process after ᴛʀᴀɴsitioning. “This is ᴛᴇsᴛᴇᴅ ground. This is something that has been done in a very safe and healthy way. We’re loath to be put in that pioneer category.”
A number of ᴛʀᴀɴsɢᴇɴᴅᴇʀ men have gone through successful pregnancies in recent years — and throughout history, for that matter — some of them long after beginning ʜᴏʀᴍᴏɴᴇ ʀᴇᴘʟᴀᴄᴇᴍᴇɴᴛ ᴛʜᴇʀᴀᴘʏ. In one well-known example, the Village Voice published a narrative about Matt Rice, a ᴛʀᴀɴsɢᴇɴᴅᴇʀ ᴍᴀɴ who conceived in 1999 through ᴀʀᴛɪFɪᴄɪᴀʟ ɪɴsᴇᴍɪɴᴀᴛɪᴏɴ and gave birth to a baby boy. Other pregnancies among ᴛʀᴀɴsɢᴇɴᴅᴇʀ men have been documented in media reports more recently.
Reese, 34, was assigned Fᴇᴍᴀʟᴇ sᴇx at birth and lived as a woᴍᴀɴ until his late teens. After counseling, he began taking ʜᴏʀᴍᴏɴᴇs around age 20 and started identifying as a ᴍᴀɴ. He met Chaplow, who was born male, about eight years ago and said it was “ʟᴏᴠᴇ ᴀᴛFɪʀsᴛ sɪɢʜᴛ.” They took custody of Chaplow’s sister’s children in 2011.
When they decided to have a biological child, they sought out medical advice. Doctors told them that because Reese had only undergone hormone therapy in his ᴛʀᴀɴsition, preparing to conceive wouldn’t be very different than for a woᴍᴀɴ who had been on hᴏʀᴍᴏɴᴀʟ ʙɪʀᴛʜ ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴏʟ. About five months after he stopped taking ᴛᴇsᴛᴏsᴛᴇʀᴏɴᴇ, Reese became pregnant. They chose not to ᴅɪsᴄᴜss ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴇᴛʜᴏᴅ ᴏF ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇᴘᴛɪᴏɴ they used.
“When I found out, it was ᴇǫᴜᴀʟ ᴘᴀʀᴛs ᴇʟᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ᴀɴᴅ Fᴇᴀʀ, I was so excited to be on this journey with the person that I love, and then also really scared. Could I do this? Pregnancy is hard, labor is hard, and I hoped that I’d be able to handle it all.” he said
On July 14, after 30 hours of labor, Reese gave birth to Leo, a 9.5-pound baby who he says is in great health. Reese said never imagined his life would take such a turn when he began his gender ᴛʀᴀɴsition some 14 years ago.
“I didn’t think I would ever find someone I would fall in love with and would be with me. Being able to adopt two brilliant, funny, sweet kids was something that I never dreamed of. The fact that any of this happened has been a total surprise to me, because that’s not the ᴛʀᴀɴs story we’re told, that love is possible, that being a loving family is possible.”he said