This story has stuck with me from the very first time that I watched it. Getting a heartfelt glimpse into the life of the Whittington family and the story of their child Ryland has changed many of my perceptions surrounding the topic of transgenderism.
In 2007, Jeff and Hillary Whittington discovered that they were pregnant with their first child. The couple was later told that they would be having a girl, and they decided on the name Ryland. About a year after Ryland was born, the couple made the heartbreaking discovery that their baby girl was deaf. While the news was undoubtedly hard-hitting, the Whittingtons knew that they could adapt as a family given their daughter's condition. After getting Ryland cochlear implants and working with her on speaking skills it seemed as though the worst was over. That is, until Ryland's speech developed enough for her to communicate her needs and wants to her parents. According to the YouTube video, Ryland started screaming at her parents, "I am a boy!"
As Ryland continued to grow she began shirking everything that was considered girly or feminine, and exuded "tomboyish" behavior. Ryland's fight to adopt what she deemed her true identity escalated to the point that she'd say things like, "When the family dies, I will cut my hair so I can be a boy." When Ryland was around five years old, her parents knew that what she was going through wasn't just a phase. After seeking professional help and researching together, it became clear to the Whittingtons that Ryland was transgender.
Professionals recommended that the couple let Ryland transition to a boy as quickly as possible. They cut Ryland's hair and watched as their child gradually came into his own. Ryland's confidence and overall happiness flourished as his family accepted his new identity. Not every one of the Whittington's close family members and friends agreed with their decision, some ended up breaking their ties with the family. However, the true heart of the story lies in the journey that Ryland has made since birth.
This story has struck a chord on so many levels. The impact that it's had on YouTube alone (over 7 million views) is telling of the powerful story that it illustrates. What do you think of Ryland's story? Share your take on this in the comments section below!