When Trystan Reese met John (Biff) Caplow, he knew that they were destined to be together. “When I saw him, I knew immediately that he was the person I wanted to spend my life with,” Trystan told Buzzfeed. The young couple were smitten, and enjoyed a carefree life until they got a faithful call one Friday night.
The call was from a social worker. She told Biff that his sister’s two young children, Riley and Hailey, who were respectively three and one years old at the time, were going to be put in foster care if he didn’t step up to take them. Biff’s sister and her boyfriend were addicts and could not provide a safe living environment for her two children. Trystan and Biff got into the car, and Trystan had to decide during that two-hour drive if he was ready to become an overnight father.
At the time, Trystan and Biff were living in Los Angeles and both working for non-profits, and knew full well that two young children would be a major financial strain, but they knew they had to help them.
While it was a major decision to make, Trystan knew immediately what he had to do. “My parents taught me that if a kid is in trouble and needs your help, you step up and help them, no matter what,” Trystan told People. “What you wanted for your life matters so much less than caring for your kids.”
So, Trystan and Biff picked up the kids. They first became their temporary guardians, and after a lengthy court battle, they became their permanent guardians. They now live in Portland, Oregon with their children. Their adoption story was first documented on the podcast The Longest Shortest Time.
But, the couple again made headlines all over the world after welcoming their third child, who was conceived naturally.
Trystan is a transgender male. When he first met Biff, he grappled with the possibility about having a biological child. They considered adoption, but Trystan ultimately decided on having Biff’s biological child. “I wanted a part of him to expand and grow and take up space in the world and become a person,” Trystan said.
Finances also played a role in their decision to have a biological child. They had just settled their court case and paid off their lawyers. They still both worked for nonprofits. Adoption is a costly and lengthy process. So, they decided to go for it the old fashioned way, with a twist.
Trystan documented his pregnancy journey on Facebook and later on his website, Biff and I. The family has over 25,000 followers and a lot of people have showed overwhelming support during the couple’s pregnancy journey. Trystan said that his pregnancy went a lot smoother than he expected. He had heard of other trans men experiencing body dysmorphia during pregnancy, but he said that he “was so geeked out by the science of pregnancy that I never had thoughts like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m growing breasts. Oh my gosh, my hips are growing wider.’”
On July 14, Trystan and Biff welcomed their son, Leo Murray Chaplow. Hailey and Riley immediately stepped up to help with their new brother/cousin. Little Hailey stepped up as “Jr.Mom,” and immediately wanted to help out with baby Leo’s diaper.
While Biff and Trystan receive a lot of positive feedback, there have also been a lot of trolls attacking their choice to have a natural-born child. They try to not take anything that the haters say to heart, and they tend to respond to their negative comments with a sense of humor. “We find that behind the shroud of anonymity, people feel pretty empowered to tell us what should happen to us, our children, to our family,” Trystan said.
Trystan also said that while he was pregnant, he got a lot of looks from people. “I can feel someone looking at my face and searching for the remnants of womanhood,” he said. “They kind of squint their eyes a little bit and I can tell they’re trying to, like, take away my beard. They’re trying to transition me in their heads.”
While there will always be people who can’t keep their negative comments to themselves, the outpouring of support for the Chaplow family has been overwhelming. Comments like, “You deserve great happiness … I am grateful that you are making the world a better place through your children and going public. You are amazing!”
Trystan and Biff had originally wanted to keep their pregnancy quiet, and not tell anyone until Leo was born. “But the more we thought and talked about it, and the more we saw transgender people torn apart in the media, the more we wanted a positive story about love and family and hope, at a time when things felt pretty desperate for trans people,” Trystan said.
Biff and Trystan weren’t the only ones to share their trans male pregnancy story.
Back in 2008, Thomas Beatie made international headlines after he was dubbed the “world’s first pregnant man.” He ended up having three children with his ex-wife, Nancy. He is now remarried, and hopes to expand his family.
Kayden Coleman is another trans man who is the proud father of a beautiful daughter named Azaliea. He married his partner Elijah, and Kayden accidently got pregnant after he had to go off testosterone for his top surgery. But, it was the best accident of his life. “We are more than capable of loving our children just as much and just as efficiently as any other parent,” Kayden said.
At the moment, Trystan and Biff feel like their family is complete, and don’t plan on having another biological child any time soon. “Having Leo was an extraordinarily profound gift, one that he gave us. I think carrying him is the most amazing gift that I’ve ever given to Biff. I have no regrets at all. It was an extraordinary experience and more than I could have ever expected,” Trystan said.