Parents Of Transgender Son Share Their Emotional Story With Inspirational Mini-Doc

ryland-whittington-transgenderThe heterosexual parents of a transgender boy are making great strides in squashing transphobia and contributing to an increased understanding of LGBT issues this week with the release of Ryland’s Story, a seven-minute video documenting their six-year-old son’s complete transition.

Jeff and Hillary Whittington say despite raising Ryland as female, he declared “I am a boy” before the age of two. They confirm that “Ryland’s gender identity was not caused by our parenting style, family structure or environmental factors,” because he began preferring traditionally “masculine” toys and activities at an early age despite being “raised as a girl.”

The Whittingtons shared the video before being honored at the sixth annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast in San Diego last Thursday, a ceremony which also honored the unveiling of the new Harvey Milk stamp.

According to the video, the Whittingtons began researching transgenderism and decided to completely support Ryland’s gender expression after reading startling statistics showing an increased rate of suicide in transgender teens. They began cutting Ryland’s hair short, buying him different clothes, redecorating his room, and using male pronouns. “We lost some friends,” they said, “but those that matter stuck with us.”

“Relative to the horrific things people have to endure with their children all over the world, this is nothing,” they concluded.

Grab a tissue before getting on the emotional roller coaster below, and take comfort in knowing stories like this mark major advancements for the LGBT community.

Follow another parent’s stories of raising a gender non-conforming child on Queerty’s series: Raising my Rainbow.

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  • ingyaom

    Puberty is going to be a challenge.

  • ViviensDad

    OK Ingyoam… That was ignorant.. I am sure they are preparing themselves… Secondly- Parenting: You’re winning at it!

  • loren_1955

    Incredibly wonderful video clip. Don’t know who I loved most, sweet Ryland or his amazing insightful good parents. Blessing to all of you.

  • Gordon

    Kudos to you for your love, compassion, common sense, and awareness of the child as an individual. Bravo and Brava to you both. All parents should have your qualities. He is so lucky to have you both, and you, him.

  • kernelt

    It breaks my heart when Ryland said that when the family dies, he would cut his and be a boy. But I am rejoiced by the support of Ryland’s family and the happiness that Ryland have. Many blessing to the family and Ryland.

    P.S. This story move me so much that I went and write up this comment.

  • jel1955

    I want Jeff and Hillary as my parents!

  • Jerry12

    Things may be OK now, but at age 18, what will “his” life experiences be? Will he take a female to the Senior Prom? I am glad that everything is “OK” for him now, but I fear for him as an adult.

  • enfilmigult

    @Jerry12: What are you fearing for, exactly? That was remarkably vague.

  • Gordon

    Jerry12 With any luck and the parenting of those two fabulous parents and his own sense of who he is, the best any of us can hope for for him is that he takes someone to the prom who he loves and respects, and who loves and respects him back.

  • Throbert McGee


    Puberty is going to be a challenge.

    Indeed — hormones kick in as never before and it remains to be seen how Ryland’s brain reacts to the biochemical changes. Possibly his inward sense of being a trans-boy will become all the stronger; or, perhaps he’ll re-identify as a “cis-girl who’s very genderqueer.” (I’m not sure if there are sufficient long-term studies on transgender-identified young children to predict how they’ll end up identifying as adults.)

    His parents seem pretty clueful, and one hopes that they’ll get second, third, and fourth opinions before considering drastic steps like hormone blockers when Ryland hits puberty. But for now they’re doing the right thing by letting Ryland express his sense of gender insofar as his 7-year-old-brain experiences it.


    Will he take a female to the Senior Prom?

    Whether Ryland is erotically attracted to males or females is quite independent of his gender/sex identity.

  • Spike

    @ingyaom: Wow, if that is the first thing that you have to say after watching such a moving and humanistic video, you are a sad sad human being. And something tells me that neither his parents nor Ryland could give a f.ck about what you think.

    With that said, how inspirational on so very many levels. Great parents, and what a courageous little boy!

  • ingyaom

    It’s one thing for a three-year-old girl to say “I’m a boy now”; I think it could be quite a different story when s/he reaches sexual maturity. What are the parents going to do then, consider gender reassignment?

  • Gordon

    ING: Probably not say anything, just go on living the human being that is. Simple, seems to me.

  • msandy

    It is interesting to see if they have accepted his deafness as much as they have his gender? Did he learn to sign as well as get the Cochlear implants? Is he part of the deaf community? I don’t know the answer to the questions, but I would be interested in knowing.

  • ktiffany88

    Jerry12 yeah they should be worried because prom is the most important event in a persons life. If people werent such assholes and have to judge others because they were different we wouldnt have this problem so what if this child wants to change genders ? Is that going to impact your personal life ? There are people who are killed because they want to be different. Its horrible i wish this family the best of luck and i hope by the time this child is 18 no one will care about what gender he is or how he lives his life.

  • bicurime

    I think this is great parenting as far as Ryland’s gender identity is concerned. I think it is great that they allowed him to choose for himself and also that they are so accepting of his choice.

    I am disappointed, however, that they took away his choice of whether he wanted to be Deaf or hearing. Yes, I know the argument relating early implantation to the success rate of the cochlear implant. But his parents did not let Ryland choose for himself which culture to identify with, be it the hearing culture or Deaf culture.

    Luckily, he came through the surgery fine and his cochlear implant seems to work for him for now, but this is not always the case. Things could have turned out much differently for him with the risks related to the elective surgery of the cochlear implant.

    It’s great that Ryland’s parents are so accepting of the LGBTQ community but so upsetting that they do not accept the Deaf community. It would be interesting to find out if Ryland chooses differently from his parents’ choice when he is older.

  • nature boy

    I admit a lot of ignorance on this subject, but it still feels to me like this type of story is based on the outdated black/white either/or binary systems our culture has insisted on for so long.

    Not blaming the parents, that’s the system we’re still in. But ultimately I would rather like the response to this type of kid when he says “I am a boy” to be “we don’t worry about “boy” or “girl” … you are Ryland and just be whoever you want to be with your own body. If you want to play gender roles and “dress up”, yes you can be a “man” with breasts and a uterus. Yes you can be a “woman” with a penis. If you WANT to play those gender roles. The point being “be yourself” and be happy in the body that is yours. I think gradually we are moving beyond forcing everyone to fit into only two labels and I hope people will find more peace with the bodies as a result.

    Personally I think the idea of a “trans-man” with breasts and a vagina and that could have babies is pretty hot.

  • DannyJane

    While it’s unlikely that Ryland will re-identify as an adolescent, I won’t close my mind to the possibility. More likely the identification as a male will become stronger. As for his Trans identity being an issue as a teen, well is there anyone out there gay, straight or trans who had an EASY growing up?

    If his parents were this understanding I’m sure they’re already planning for that day. I wish them all only the best.

  • DG101

    @ViviensDad: What’s ignorant about it? Are you insinuating that puberty for her is going to be a cake walk?

  • whoman55

    I have a similar story. When our son Liam was three he started telling us he was a duck. At first we were worried, but then we decided to accept his chosen identity. Now Liam is seven. We set up a little pond in the backyard where he can swim around and eat worms. We’re truly blessed.

  • beleevable

    I am the parent of a transgendered youth. I have allowed him to form his own identity and decide what he is comfortable with. All I have ever wanted for my children is to know that they are loved and accepted. While I didn’t identify with his issue, I didn’t identify with his pain and loneliness. It was on that level that I sought to confort him and assist him in his journey. To me, he is my beautiful fantastic child. Nothing would stop me from loving him or wanted to move mountains to make his world safe and secure; his life one he loves. Had I recognized the issue in his young childhood, I hope I would have had these parents response. He came out to me at 16. I did make him wait till he was 18 to take hormones. Hide sight, I should have allowed it earlier. He became so much more settled as a human being when he began hormone treatments.

  • hmmm...

    I know a woman like this. She grew up in India. Identified as a boy till she was 9. Didn’t like girly things, thought she was a bit etc. But India has very strong views on this. Her parents wouldn’t let her be a boy though they were happy to let her play with them and do ‘boy’ things. When she hit puberty all that changed. She is my wife.

  • okmelanie

    I am raising a soon to be 13 year old, girl crazy boy. And puberty has been a challenge for us this year. Puberty will be a challenge regardless of your child’s gender, sexual orientation or gender orientation. So, you are correct, but not for the reasons you very short statement implies.

  • hmmm...

    You are right. I think there are a bunch of reasons ones identity can be changed over time.

  • beleevable

    @whoman55: Dear Woman55,

    If my child wanted to be a chicken, I can tell you I would buy him feathers and a coop, if it meant his happiness, his life, his self worth as a human being.

    My goal as a parent to give love unconditional and support my children in their choices and in their struggles.

    I’m sad for you to not realize that what these children feel is real. Their pain overwhelming. My child only left his room to go to school. He ventured out to grab food, a quick shower and then back to his room. His feel like a foreigner in his own body.

    Did I understand it? No. I didn’t. But I did understand his despair and his ultimate need for love and support.

    It’s not my journey, but I can support him.

    I hope one day, you will understand and not be threatened by other people’s self truth.

  • nature boy

    I have watched the video and I commend the parents for having the wisdom and courage to educate themselves and make a dramatic course correction when Ryland was 5.

    BUT it seems obvious that they tried pretty hard (as most parents do) to reinforce traditional gender roles from birth starting with the pink nursery. And that pressure was causing a serious crisis for Ryland by age 5. So they really did play a big role in the crisis.

    IMHO they’re still over-correcting a bit in the other way because really… they’re still caught up in the “you have to choose boy or girl” duality.

    I was particularly broken by their quote of Ryland saying “why did God make me this way??” The message Ryland and other kids need to be getting from birth from Christian families is “God made you this way and you are PERFECT just as you are. God does not make mistakes.” Whatever your definition of God is. Feel free to substitute any pronoun or use “Creator” “Force” “Universe” “Unknown”.

    The lesson I am taking away from this is: let your kids be themselves and respect what they are telling you, even at a very young age.

    OK, I’m rambling but I guess I’m trying to understand, would love to hear agreements/disagreements.

  • DaisyLacasa

    @ingyaom: I had a patient who was a girl becoming a boy. He received Testosterone injections from the time he turned 12 and had surgery to remove both breasts, his uterus, and his ovaries. This is now a procedure to construct a penis using the old vaginal tissue.

  • granamiere

    As the parent of a child with a cochlear implant (a deaf child), I am amazed at the clarity of his speech. You have to realize that is a HUGE feat that took an amazing amount of work and dedication on the parents part. To me, her identifying as a boy is a piece of cake in comparison, as it only takes the parents to be open minded and to listen and follow the direction of what their child is telling them he needs. He is brave, beautiful, healthy and amazing young boy. So proud of him!

  • beleevable

    @Throbert McGee: Thank you for your responses. Sexual identity is not about sex. I wish people would quit assuming that because one identifies as transgendered they are also saying they are interested in the sex they are currently assigned to. My son is transgendered. Often the first question people ask me is, “does he have a partner” and “how long as he been gay”.

    I can feel myself cringe. It’s not about sex, it’s about gender.

  • kb25

    @ingyqom: Puberty is, indeed, a challenge for everyone, isn’t it? [transkids have a physical developmental progress that enables them to transition as they get older. Puberty for Ryland will be about as challenging as it is for every other 13-year-old; he’ll have maybe a few more things he has to do, but any challenges beyond the basically normal will be from other people]

  • tonihoo

    Good luck with what ever the ending of this situation is, all I know is that I would support my child 100%, but someone, somewhere will always have something bad to say or criticism! Be happy people! X

  • Kaz

    I am so happy this little boy had parents that listened to him. He’s going to have some struggles in the years to come because of bigotry but his mom, dad and sister are going to have his back because there is not a dang thing wrong with him and he just wants to live his life.

  • nature boy

    @DaisyLacasa ….. this hormone and surgery on a child seems barbaric to me…. please educate me why I am wrong. I can easily see a scenario based on how my own feelings have developed in my thirties and forties where the child later in life would really mourn the loss of his reproductive ability…..

  • beleevable

    @nature boy: Nature boy, thank you for trying to understand. I can share with you from my personal experience as a parent of a transgender youth.

    When my son first came out to me, my response was first one of denial. After the denial, I was overwhelmingly supportive to the point I forced my son back in the closet and he retracted his position. I attended support meetings, I found him support meetings, I was seeking my own understanding but I was also compensating for a tremendous sense of guilt and a desire to “fix” my child.

    Through professional help I was able to allow my son dictate his own journey and let him decide the pace of his transformation. I let him guide me and tell me what he needed from me. He decided on hormones. He is still “he”. He is still”son”. His dress is more androgynous. He is not going to do any surgery at this point.

    My job in all this is to love and accept him. I have given him the tools to do the rest. I need to trust as a parent that if I’ve done my job, he will develop into a mature adult who is capable of making good choices.

    The rest is on him and I let him be the Band Leader today. Me, I’m just the Band.

  • beleevable

    @bicurime: Interesting perspective. Thank you for sharing.

  • yeah1

    I look forward to the day when decent thoughtful parenting isn’t a new story.

  • whoman55


    “The rest is on him and I let him be the Band Leader today. Me, I’m just the Band.”

    This seems like very smart parenting to me. Let the kid make all the major decisions. It’s the parents job to simply be supportive of every decision their child makes.

  • lovemykids

    What is most important to me is that my children will be happy in their lives. I am the mother of four young adults and I could not be more proud of them. My two daughters have always been the adventurous tomboy type. The eldest hit puberty and blossomed into a beautiful young woman, while my youngest is transgendering. It has been less than a year since he told me that he gender identifies as a male. I still sometimes forget to use ‘he’ or talk about him as my son. Thankfully, he is very patient with me, and reflects to me the love he has grown up in. What ever Ryland faces in the future, including puberty, he has loving supporting parents who will do their best to guide their children through what ever life throws at them!

  • gablem

    @ingyaom: Yes.
    There are a number of treatments for transgender children who identify before puberty (which you would know if you took the time to research). Ryland has the option of going on puberty suppressants, which would stop him from growing breasts and beginning to produce eggs, and allow him to proceed with the rest of his transition without having to undo a female puberty. He would then be able to have testosterone injections to create an artificially induced male puberty (this is called hormone replacement therapy and is not limited to those who use puberty suppressants. HRT can be performed at any stage in life). He also has the option of what is colloquially called “bottom surgery” but is officially termed “genital reassignment surgery” (NOT “gender reassignment”) to give him a penis. Some transgender individuals choose not to have bottom surgery, since it is still a relatively new procedure and is risky, instead choosing to use hard and soft packers to simulate a penis. If he doesn’t take puberty suppressants he will need to have top surgery in order to be flat-chested like a cis man, which is kind of like a cosmetic double mastectomy, removing the fat tissue that makes up breasts and leaving just the pectoral muscles under the skin.
    I encourage you to do your own research as well; there’s a lot more specific and in-depth information out there, and it’s fairly easy to find, too.

  • kindheart

    Great parents. That is what I call unconditional love. God bless them all.

  • gablem

    @DG101: First, Ryland’s pronouns are he/him/his, please use them.
    Second, puberty isn’t a cakewalk for anyone, much less transgender kids, but going through puberty with the support of your family and professionals is far easier than going through puberty as the wrong gender with unsupportive parents.
    Third, please read my response to ingyaom above.

  • Troi

    Things will be fine for him. When the time comes, he will receive his testosterone instead of estrogen. Plain and simple. Outside of that there shouldn’t be any other issues for you or Ryland to be concerned about.

  • Troi

    I seem to see a reoccurring issue with many people that do not or will not accept the LGBT. They are unable to respect a human being as just that, a human being. If you don’t fall into their black and white world you are somehow less than human.

  • tararaque7

    As the parent of a transgendered child, this story made me cry. I am so happy for this beautiful child. I only wish we would have know about our son at this age. It would’ve been such an easier transition for him, I believe. This story gives me hope.

  • mezzacanadese

    Thank you, Jeff and Hillary, for letting Ryland be who he was meant to be.

  • Bettyb

    @whoman55 – let’s keep ignoring kids’ thoughts and feelings and plug them with psychotropic med to shut them down. And that way you have plenty of time to yourself to live in a world where everything looks and feels perfect. Because you didn’t give birth to a human with different ideas or abnormal goals, that’s insane. And then when your child lashes out violently, you can denounce him or her and tell the cameras you don’t grieve for monsters like the person you raised who inexplicably became a horror. Yeah, that has been the story behind EVERY PARENT faced with the reality they raised a violent person. But let’s keep doing what you want and replace independent thinking with chemicals. That’s working like gangbusters.

  • cflekken

    @ingyaom: Not sure why a few on here are busting your nut so badly. Yes, congratulations to the parents of this beautiful child as you are nurturing him with unconditional love. But, at the same time, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this is just going to be a cake walk for Ryland. Once puberty hits, his breasts will start growing, he’ll get his period. I’m sure his parents are mentally preparing him for that, but it may be very tough for a child who has identified as a male for years, probably without truly understanding the true physical differences between a male and female, to start experiencing being a female on a physical level in addition to the mental and emotional level. On top of that, having to go through hormone therapy and plastic surgery may be difficult for him to comprehend since he’s felt so “naturally” as a male that he may not see himself as different.

  • kmay2010

    I am a straight woman, married with five teenagers, I personally have never been faced with having to make this type of decision however I 100% agree with the decision that they made. What an amazing gift they gave given their child…. to be who he is and never be made to hide his feelings about himself. No doubt there will be challenges later I’m life when he is forming his sexual identity however, with parents like his, he has a good chance of getting through it! :)

  • Dollphn

    Yes, puberty will be a challenge. What happens when he gets his period? Is there medication to stop that from happening? Great parents to respond to their child’s need.

  • lindarosemary

    I an so glad to be able to see this. My grand”son” was born a girl, and at the same as this child (age two), she decided she was a boy. I wont’ bore you with all the details. Suffice it to say we all treated her as a girl, but her assertion only got stronger over time The wonderful person is now 21 years old. and is livign as a man.

  • lindarosemary

    sorry for all the typos above.

  • Lusketrollet


    You’re disappointed that they “took away his choice to be deaf”?

    Jesus. What the fuck is wrong with you?

  • ingyaom

    I just wonder what “I want to be a boy” means to a child this age. Is it the same as saying “I don’t like pink girly things”? Some boys do like pink girly things – like that “rainbow” kid we used to hear about all the time on this site. (What happened to him?) So she wants to dress up like a boy? So what? There’s nothing inherently masculine about shirts and trousers. If he had said that in Scotland or Greece or Egypt or a lot of other places, they would have put him in a skirt.

  • brassai

    As a parent of a transgender child myself, I did not get the signs at an early age. My kid was a tomboy, but wore dresses, he didn’t like the frilly ones, but then he always hated clothes. He told me when he was 17. My initial reaction was much like Nature Boy’s, ” why do you have to label yourself” I don’t care if you are gay?

    I got hit with the I am not gay! I am a male. My child had dated guys, had dated girls, but was becoming increasingly more withdrawn. I was afraid he would hurt himself.

    When he told me, I was shocked, but I love my kid. He agreed to counseling to make sure this was causing his depression, not depression seeking this as a solution.

    I was told it is not a choice it’s who I am, please do not hate me. Really? Like I could ever hate my kid for telling me about himself.

    I am happy to say four years later he is quite happy, we lost almost no friends. Even his old boyfriends are his friends now. His girlfriend is beautiful and they balance each other nicely.

    It is so nice to hear other people’s stories of love and acceptance. We are too hard on each other. I’m so glad this video was shared with me. Ryland will make his way. Hormone therapy has come a long way and kids today don’t see the world through judgemental eyes. It’s a brave new world.

  • mgmchicago

    @Lusketrollet: Yes, it does seem like an odd statement on the surface. However, some members of the deaf community have moral/ethical differences of opinion on whether or not to use surgery/implants to become a hearing person. Some see it as a betrayal of the deaf community – similar to the debate among some little people regarding whether or not to choose painful surgery to lengthen their legs a few inches.

  • shazzaleone

    To start with- i am a tomboy.Have been and always will be.
    Not exactly the diesel or butch type but at the same time-i never wanted lose my breasts or grow a penis…
    But i grew up- rejecting the dresses n skirts and everything girly.I was quite the athlete at school too.
    Yes,a bit like Ryland but i didnt have Ryland’s type of parents.
    Ryland’s parents are strong characters.Refusing to accept society’s dictate of what they should do to conform ..
    The whole idea of conforming and being accepted reminds me of being the only odd one in the playground and being bullied for being different.
    As a result,I grew up having suicidal fantasies.
    This is the point i am trying to get to…
    The figure 41% of trans committing suicide only records successful attempts.
    What if all attempted resulted in death ?

  • justinla

    @Lusketrollet: Maybe before you shout “what the fuck is wrong with you” at somebody, try doing some research on your own? to receive a cochlear implant here in the USA, it tends to mean deprivation of ASL (American Sign Language), which is the natural language for Deaf people. However, getting a CI, parents are almost always told to not expose ASL to their Deaf child in order to speed track their hearing and speaking abilities. You guessed it right, that is far from the truth. Countless of children with CI grow up trying to hear and speak like their peers but never completely there. Often, they become teens without strong first language acquisition, affecting their ability to read, write, communicate, and even their cognitive skills. There are lucky few ones who make it or even those who found ASL on their own. Basically, giving a CI to your child comes with a great responsibility: make sure your child also has access to a language without having even to try, which is ASL. Spoken English is just a tool for Deaf people but never their true language because in a room of people speaking with each other, they will be lost, end of discussion. So, yeah the question is did the parents accept their child as a Deaf person? I don’t know.

  • shazzaleone

    Its interesting reading some of your comments
    In particular ..one on not being accepted by the deaf community and the other citing his wife being a tomboy as a kid growing up in India…
    Really interesting input from ppl who still dont understand the point.
    It is really a simple story of a couple who loves their kids- IRREGARDLESS ..
    Yea puberty is never an easy time for any parents as kids grow up trying to find their own identity and their place in society, at a time when hormones rage on..
    Yea things can change for Ryland.He may decide he is a girl after all at that point in time- who knows ..
    But i hv the greatest confidence in Jeff n Hillary to tackle whatever that happens.
    But in the meantime- all i am asking is to please stop judging people unless you are in that same position.
    I also want to caution those who DO NOT listen to their kids…
    Because one morning,dont be so surprised to find your child hang themself in their room.
    By that time- no matter HOW you wished you listened.. you will never get to hear ever again.

  • lcking0623

    I would like to express how touch that I am with these two truly amazing parents. I would be proud to call them my friends. There story is exactly what I would do if I have a child that was transgendered. I love how they are truly unconditional with their love for their child. I wish I could understand why parents would ever disown or have conditions on their children. I have many beautiful friends that are gay, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgender. I love them all. We live in a world of very judgmental people where they say that we are all God’s creations unless you are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender. If you go with religion, how can these people say that God loves and accepts everyone in the same breath of saying that God will hate them for being gay. Come on. My favorite is the people that says that and says but God hates… I hope Ryland has a great childhood. He is a very handsome boy. He definitely has the best parents in the world. You have my support. I hope I met you all one day. Keep up the great work for your son!

  • dunlunicor

    @DaisyLacasa: Not sure where you are located, but I don’t know of any country that will allow hormones and surgery before age 16 or 17. And the surgery you are referring to doesn’t exist. A metoidioplasty releases and lengthens the clitoris, but no ftm bottom surgery uses vaginal tissue. I’m sensing a troll to work up alarm.

    In case anyone was confused, hormone blockers are not “radical”. They essentially put puberty on pause for a few years until the child is old enough to decide if they would like to transition or go through a natural puberty. The reason for this is that a natural puberty can be traumatizing to a trans child, and makes later transition much more difficult, but no one with half a brain would allow a minor to make the decision to permanently transition.

  • levarfan

    @shazzaleone: No, no, that 41% is a self reported number where people who identified as transgender were asked if they had ever attempted or thought about attempting suicide, before or after transition. It is from the transgender health project study. This was most certainly not successful suicides!

  • Mezaien

    Good for you MOM & DAD as a HOMO dad for six I know what it`s like. Most of the HOMOS here don`t have children! Booo you.

  • gablem

    @justinla: The question also is: should being deaf (a physical and changeable condition) be ‘accepted’ in the same way that being transgender (an unchanging part of someone’s identity) should be accepted? I don’t know. I am not deaf, and I am not close with anyone who is or was deaf, so I’ll leave that question to those with more knowledge and experience.
    What gets me is that the original commenter said that the parents took away Ryland’s choice, when in fact they gave him one. Children who are born and raised deaf never develop the parts of their brains that process auditory input, and after a certain age (9 years according to wikipedia) it becomes impossible for them to process sounds even if they receive implants. I’ve heard stories of congenitally blind or deaf adults who received implants to give them the sense they’d never had, who wound up doing themselves harm trying to remove the implants because the sensory input was unprocessable and overwhelming. If Ryland hadn’t gotten implants as a toddler, he would have lived his entire life deaf whether he liked it or not. As it is, he can hear and if he so chooses later in life he can become deaf.

  • compassionate parent

    You militants need to take it down a notch. If the child himself at such an early age cried in frustration, saying ‘why did God make me this way?’ then please don’t pretend not to understand when someone responds that puberty is going to be tough for him. My best wishes to this boy and his parents. It may (or may not) be a long road they have ahead of them.

  • feminist

    The video shows Ryland doing sports and playing the drums. Does this mean, if he were raised as a girl, he wouldn’t have access to sports and drums? And why is this child being paraded around at public meetings and on the internet? The parents are deluded creeps.

    The right way to do this is to let Ryland dress as he wants–see, I’m using his preferred pronouns to be supportive–let him do sports, play the drums, have short hair, as many, many little boys and girls do–but don’t put him on the medical treadmill.

    The creepy, manipulative parents cite the statistic of how many trans children attempt suicide. They conveniently omit the statistic that 98% of children with gender dysphoria elect not to transition. They end up as straight, gay or bi, but not trans. Only 2% of these kids elect to transition. So putting Ryland on the FTM conveyor belt is premature, no? BTW–I’m so old, when I was a little girl, I demanded that everyone call me Elvis. After that, I had a cowboy phase. I’m so glad that back in the Dark Ages of the 50s, no one thought to drag me to a gender clinic and transition me, just because I wasn’t girly.

    I grew up to like girls, and I love being a woman. Thank you, sane parents!

  • beleevable

    @Bettyb: Thank you betty. There seems to be this misconception that being transgender is a whim or a passing phase. My child was in counseling for over 6 months on a regular basis when he came out to me. A therapist was part of our process. My son was depressed severely. I worried about him everyday. No one would choose to be so unhappy. No one would choose to be ridiculed and targeted. I’m trying not to respond with anger to this person. I would like to add my child is highly intelligence and successful. He is a math major at a state university and carries upwards of nineteen units at a time. My children do make their own chooses and pay their own consequences. They also get to accept the rewards of good chooses. They are critical thinkers and high achievers. This woman’s response are so sarcastic and horrible I’m beginning to think I’m being trolled. I actually hope I am. If not its no wonder so any transgendered youth are suicidal.

  • lexybaby

    @feminist: I was the same, when I was about 6 I started refusing all things girly, I did say I didn’t want to be a girl as well. When I was about 14 or 15 that changed and I started wearing skirts and doing ‘girly’ things again. It’s great that the parents are being supportive but it seems to me that their support is based on 2 extremes, male and female. If he wants to be referred to in male terms fine, wear boys clothes, fine but why do we feel the need to stick labels on tjings all the time? The line between male and female shouldn’t be that far away from each other and I think this is based on them being polar opposites.

  • jayj150

    What I wonder is, where do you draw the line between a gender-non-conforming child and a transgender one?. I watched the video, and all I see is a girl who likes things that are typically considered boyish. Having ‘an aversion to anything girly'(which is the only thing even remotely close to an explanation as to why they decided Ryland is a boy) does not mean a girl is not a girl. So what if Ryland prefers trousers, cowboy costumes, sports, drums and short hair?. There are PLENTY of women who are into those things(not just lesbian women, by the way). Any chance Ryland could just be a girl who likes “things that are typically” masculine?. I was very troubled by the parents’ comments about it not just being phase; so what?, what is so wrong with having a tomboy daughter, and if it makes you feel better, some girls grow out of it, but what if not?. Would you love your ‘masculine’ daughter any less because she is not your average ‘feminine’girl?. Why can’t they let Ryland do all those things she loves while still being a girl?.

    I’m sure they love Ryland, but no, they’re not accepting parents, they’re not accepting Ryland for the non-conforming child she is. They prefer to tell everybody she is really a boy, because apparently being a masculine boy is better than being a masculine girl. And that has a name: gender-conformism. When they say their child is really a boy because she likes ‘masculine things’, they’re not just insulting her; they’re insulting every non-conforming person: child or adult, male or female, gay or straight.

    So again, where do you draw the line?. How do you decide your daughter is not just a non-conforming kid before you start injecting her with hormone suppressors and then testosterone?.

  • shelbym158

    It’s not strange that our psychological perspective is messed up, that you might feel one way although your biology and society says something else. We are all broken people somewhere, whether in our sexual attraction or our deepest thoughts or a thousand other ways. Sin taints us. But how we feel is just one perspective among three. This is one angle that informs our sexuality. Only one.

    So yes, gender identity is not just body parts. All three of these perspectives — biological, social, psychological — inform who God created us to be. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t manipulate all three of these perspectives to say something they don’t. You can think yourself male and you can fool society to see male. You can even go under the knife and reorder the look of your anatomy. But you can’t make XX become XY. You just can’t. God’s imprint will haunt our every effort to rebel against his handiwork. And the fact is, when the dust settles, you’ve only suppressed your identity with a surgical procedure and a bottle of pills.

    But surgery and pills can’t pass for a Creator. As much as you’d like to believe that these props made you finally become “who you should have been,” there’s one voice still calling. It’s the voice of the One who made you, the One who knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). It’s the voice of the One who knows how broken this world is and how broken you feel. He knows because he himself has come to this earth and walked in your shoes. He knows because he took all of your brokenness, and sin and guilt and pain, and he died on the cross to give you a new identity summed up in one word: his.
    He came to make you whole in him, not in artificial hormones.
    Turn from them and trust in Jesus.
    As broken as you feel in this world, believe that you were created for another.

  • Gordon

    Oh, Shelby, please share with the world the rest of your sentence: …you were created for another…WHAT? Another what, Shelby? Share with us!

  • davidblood

    What an amazing story! I wish ALL parents could be accepting and respecting of who/what their children are, not what they want them to be. Too many children don’t open up who they truly are to their parents for due to fear of rejection. And this is not just sexuality or gender, it’s that and differences in political views, religious beliefs, and a BIG one is career interests. How many children pursue an education for a career based on what their parents want, not what they want? How many children have not pursued a creative career, for example, because their parents urged them to be more practical? Yes, I loved my parents, (very much) and yes I know they did what they thought was best me and my siblings. But yes, this is also personal (not on the gender issue BTW) this boy is very fortunate and his parents are setting a great example for others, not just in accepting his gender, but I am sure if they can do that, they are accepting in many other ways as well. I wish them all happy lives.

  • davidblood


  • gablem

    @jayj150: I think the statement “I am a boy” is a good place to start.
    Ryland’s parents are accepting his gender identity, which he himself declared. I’m sure if Ryland does change his mind at some point and identify as a masculine girl, his parents will respect that as well and switch to female pronouns. Now, however, Ryland identifies as a boy and prefers male pronouns, and his parents accept that. You should do the same.

  • realmsman

    Fantastic story of love overcoming prejudice.

  • Maunalisa

    Your story moved me to tears. You are truly wonderful parents and Ryland, you and his sister are blessed to have each other.

  • mbell98

    As a child of Deaf adults, I understand the conflict between the cochlear implant. Both of my kids are hearing, however, if one of them had been Deaf, I would have most likely pursued getting them a cochlear implant. It is the decision a family must make. In her late 40s, my mom got both cochlear implants put in, and they were successful. My mom has worked with Deaf kids her entire teaching career, and she told me those who did not have the cochlear implant struggled much more than those who did. Granted, I know MANY Deaf people who are incredibly smart. It honestly depends where you live. There are Deaf schools everywhere. Where I live, the special education program is not one I would want my child in. I am very much for bodily autonomy rights, so it’s hard for me to really decide. I want the best for my kids, as every parent does.

  • veggievanessa

    I was nervous to watch this b/c I thought they went through with surgery. All they did was allow this young person to be who they really are inside and out. You shouldn’t force stereotypical norms on young people; they have enough to deal with. That’s like putting a honking, pink bow on the head of a bald baby girl, really?

    These parents could have been complete monsters to that little boy but they chose to be enlightened. A wonderful, well-adjusted, healthy son is better than a miserable, self-hating daughter.

    This is a sign that the paradigm is shifting and for that I am grateful; what a truly wonderful story.

  • Mimmom

    @Throbert McGee: I expect these wonderful, sensitive, caring parents will think about all of the implications and handle each thing as it happens. My understanding is that most kids know their gender identity by the time they are age 3-5 years. It’s nothing to do with sex at that point. It’s just that they know their gender. Letting a child know you love them and want them to be happy no matter how this all works out is never the wrong thing to do.

  • Mittens93

    In the world we live in I can’t even imagine the future challenges of all involved but I wish them the best and praise them for being Awesome!

  • tham

    I really don’t understand Transexual. Is it a really committed transvestite? cross dressing is now a sexuality? Clothing?

    On the other hand, I want to be an astronaut dog when I was that age…I would walk on all fours and bark wearing a space helmet.

    Weirdly enough, I still do that…but for very different reasons.

  • Born2Be

    @lexybaby: Unlike you, I knew I was a boy – at 5 yo.

    I had brothers and a sister. It wasn’t like I didn’t know what different “equipment” looked like. I just figured it was like one of my friends, Joel, who was missing a forearm and had little tiny fingers at the elbow stump (thylidomide birth defect). Things were missing/deformed – my mental map said I was male.

    At 12 I went through female puberty (a nightmare) and then at 14 I had a male-like puberty (voice cracked and changed, male body hair and a 6″ growth spurt in less than a year – all of which I happily embraced). I developed masculine musculature. Heck, I didn’t even walk like a girl. My “female puberty” was (mostly) reversed.

    My fundamentalist Christian father and mother FREAKED. My mother dragged me to every doctor under the sun. My first gynecology experience was a rectal exam because my mother insisted that I “remain a virgin”.

    I tried coming out to my parents as male at 16 yo. This was back in the early 70s. More alienation, problems, issues ensued (including a stint at finishing school-just in case I didn’t understand what was expected of me). I ran away from home more times than I can count.

    Fast-forward through a lot of living-including a period of trying VERY hard to present/act/live as female. My relationship with my parents didn’t survive young adulthood. Trying to “be female” just didn’t work and I transitioned long before trans was even a “thing”.

    In my 30s, after living as male for almost a decade, I was fortunate enough to have access to Johns Hopkins – an early pioneer of genetics testing. I’m a mosiac chimera. For the layman: I started out as 2 fertilzed ova that merged. And yeah, one was female and one was male. The mosiac part means that the ova are scrambled throughout my entire self.

    My -natural- hormonal blood levels mean I don’t need testosterone, I make enough of my own. I am non-op because I’m not worried about it. Neither is my (female) partner of 20+ years. People who are concerned with what I have in my pants have something way-wrong with THEM.

    And I’ll add to what others have said: it is NOT about sex. It is closer to having a traumatic amputation of a limb and still getting signals to the brain that it is there. Further there are F2M that are attracted to females, attracted to males and attracted to both. Gender identity does NOT equal sexual preference.

    I have always thought of myself as male – even while pretending to be female (when I attempted to conform). It was an act. I kept a “face in the jar by the door” and had to consciously don it daily. Trying to conform was WAY more stressful than just being myself.

    I wish I could’ve had Ryland’s parents. There would’ve been a lot less angst and wrong turns in my life, I think.

    I also wish I had Ryland’s doctors. The amount of ignorance I encounter in the medical profession (outside of places like Johns Hopkins) is astounding.

    To other parents trying to parent a kid who is like I was- for trans kids it isn’t a phase. Doctors don’t have everything figured out: there may actually be a medical reason (as was discovered for me in the 90s).

    Hopefully, someday, none of this will be an issue. Ryland’s parents are doing a good job and I wish them (and Ryland) strength and luck in the future. It DOES get easier!

  • Born2Be

    @shelbym158: well then I guess your God didn’t make me – because I have cells that are XX and cells that are XY.

    Open your mind. People like me exist.

  • scribbsley

    I dont see why all the hate ingyaom is receiving. Puberty IS going to be tough for Ryland. He’ll have to face dealing with the female anatomy if his parents decide not to do hormonal treatment. Also anyone who insults just because someone is making statements that are true, or asking important questions, needs to get over themselves. Not everyone is trying to be a dick or weird or whatever. These are questions the parents are asking themselves too. No need to throw insults or belittle others.

  • peculiargirl

    @jayj150: It wasn’t that she wasn’t acting feminine enough, she said “I’m a boy” the video shows her saying this is my sister and I am her brother. It is one thing to act against your assigned gender type, it is another completely to identify strongly as the opposite gender type.
    He made it perfectly clear he was a boy, not a girl, regardless of how he was dressed or what activities he enjoyed.

  • Mimmom

    gender is separate from sex. Clothing has nothing to do with it. Gender and sexuality have been considered the same thing for a long time but really everything falls on a spectrum. Not everyone fits neatly in the binary thing our society encourages and prefers. That’s because binary is a model that is supposed to represent the way we are but we’re finding that the model isn’t as close to the reality as we once believed. The model has led us to believe that gender, biological sex and sexuality all line up perfectly. Human beings are just a whole lot more complicated than that.

  • Stefunny

    Here is how I finally was able to explain transgender to my fundamentalist Christian grandmother. Kids are occasionally born with handicaps. Babies are born with cleft palates or missing limbs. Babies are born with out sight or hearing. Babies are born with heart defects or mental retardation. Why is it so hard to wrap our minds around the fact that some babies may also be born with the wrong parts for how their brain identifies?

    No one says to the child with a missing limb that their handicap is sinful or that they may grow out of it. If for whatever reason, God, or whomever allows all kinds of things to go off the “normal” course, why not gender as well? It seems reasonable to me that sometimes people are born with the wrong parts.

  • peculiargirl

    I fully support parents, family, and friends that understand or at least try to understand what it is like to be transgender or different in any way, it isn’t always easy in today’s society.
    Myself, I consider myself to be largely gender neutral. I was born and raised as a girl, albeit a tomboy my entire life, I am sexually attracted to men, but to a lesser extent women as well. I remember very strongly wanting a penis when I was younger, I hated dresses, baby dolls, pink, and all things girly. I may have even acted further on it if I knew I could have, 30 years ago I had no idea about different sexualities, much less different genders.
    Today I am female, but I still don’t feel strongly female, yet I don’t feel male either. I wouldn’t undergo FTM surgery simply because it isn’t very advanced, if I am going to switch genitals I want it to feel and look natural. I would have no issue if I woke up tomorrow and I was a man though, not better or worse, I think I would still be right on the fence about my gender, the only difference is that I would then be more inclined to identify as a gay man who occasionally liked women too.
    My point is, we are all unique individuals and life would be much easier if we were all allowed to be who we are naturally rather than being forced into gender, sexual, or other stereotypes.

  • patriciamccart

    You are commended for great parenting. No one should ever judge what they themselves have never had to deal with. My prayers and God’s blessing to all of you. Thank you for sharing your story so others may gain the strength to maybe deal with a similar or same situation. You are truly wonderful parents! We have 5 kids all heterosexual but if any had been born differently I know we would have done the same as you. If you ever come East to Boston please look us up we would love to meet you all ?

  • seerketje

    Dear Parents, you did not loose any friends, those people you lost as “friends”, never where trough fiends to begin with! You are wonderful people, PERIOD!!!

  • seerketje

    @scribbsley: Thank U!

  • realmama

    Another mom hoping this will soon not be newsworthy. Your son is lucky to have you as parents!

  • justinla

    @mbell98: I don’t think it is whether the child has a cochlear implant or not that determines his/her shot at success. It is the language that the child has access to. If we pay attention to the research out there, we will understand that Deaf children (both CI/non-CI) that use ASL fare way way better than those Deaf children (both CI/non-CI) that don’t use ASL and are educated through oral method. If it comes to the point where every Deaf child must be cochlear-implanted (kinda pointless I personally believe), I would be fine with it because it is not my main concern anymore. It is the language access we give to Deaf children that concerns me the most because believe me, majority of Deaf children out there are deprived of their natural language, ASL.

    As a Deaf bilingual person growing up with ASL and written English, I was brought up to understand and embrace myself as a Deaf person. I never saw myself as any less than hearing people. I am a whole person and I would never wish for anything different. I know the world is not universally designed for people like me, and others but it is not and will never be our responsibility to fit in. We shall always meet halfway.

    However, my strong sense of identity and confidence come with privileges of being born to third generation Deaf/ASL family and going to one of the best Deaf bilingual schools in the USA. Alas, I have met countless of Deaf people who didn’t have the same chances as I did. They would often be angry and bitter about the fact they found ASL much later in their lives or even about Deaf community; their community. Some of them thought they were the only Deaf person on the Earth. Imagine that. Some of them would always try to fit in with hearing and speaking accurately but never perfectly. Furthermore, some of them have CI and still lack the confidence I have in interacting with hearing people.

    Funny, you said most CI students do better without non-CI students, there are many non-CI Deaf citizens who work in White House, as lawyers, university professors, and even operate their own business. CI does not define success, believe me.

    If I had my way, I would mandate for all Deaf children to know ASL and have the option of learning through ASL because no child should TRY to communicate. They should be ABLE to communicate NATURALLY. Parents of Deaf children should know better to learn ASL along with their children as well.

    This video explains the benefits of using ASL for Deaf children well: http://youtu.be/FV69iJuXwP4

  • machineman

    I am a 45 year old transman. I knew at the age of 3 I was a boy in a girl’s body. I could only wish my parents understood at that age. As I grew up in the 80’s, most people called me a lesbian, which was hurtful to me because I liked girls and I dressed and acted like a boy. At age 18, I sought psychiatric help to help me understand who I was. Which is exactly what Ryland’s parents did and I applaud them. After many counseling sessions I was allowed to change my driver’s license and start hormone therapy. I also changed my name legally and quit the job I had as a
    “female” and took whatever jobs I could to help me save for the very expensive surgeries to remove my “female parts”. Once the surgeries where complete and with a doctor’s signature and letter to the state I was born in, I made a request to have my birth certificate changed to my true sex – male. During all of which my parents and family had many struggles accepting me. I remember telling my Dad if I didn’t make this change I wanted to die. I even remember attempting suicide after many struggles of people not accepting me as a male back then.
    Now nearly 27 years later, I live my life happier than I have ever been. My family loves me more than ever. In fact my parents are proud to call me their son.
    No one is saying Ryland will have it easy growing up. At least his parents listened to him and educated themselves to help Ryland make his decisions at his young age. I applaud them for doing so. I would love to hear a follow up on Ryland after he takes his date to the prom, or even after he marries the love of his lifetime. His world is so big he can do just about anything he wants. He can do so being proud of who he is and that he has the love and support of his parents.

  • trp76262

    I found this video to be quite compelling and moving. It is brave of these parents to allow their transgender child to evolve into the person he was meant to be. Being gay or transgender is not a choice it is biological. I would far rather help my child exist and survive then lose them due to the bullying that leads teens to suicide these days. It’s rampant here in the DFW area.

    I have had gay friends all of my life and frankly find them more honest, loving, caring and sincere then many of my heterosexual friends. I was picked on for this when I lived in a small town in Michigan; yet I didn’t care. When I move to the DFW area I made more gay friends. We use to go to Oak Lawn and party all the time and it was a blast.

    I recognized at a very early age that my son loved to play with dolls, was a bit flamboyant, and loved to play dress up with his cousin. Even tho he was always surrounded by girls, and even had many girlfriends, at the age of 17 he came out to me as being gay. I already knew as by the age of 12 he was showing more curiosity about other boys then girls. As a single Mom, I wanted him to unfold in whatever way he needed to do so. He was my only child, and the only live birth I had, and he is a gift. And, I was waiting for him to come to terms with who he is in his own time.

    He is now 25, in a relationship with a great guy, graduated from college magna cum laude and has worked for Apple as a Genius for the past 5 years. He is moving back to Texas, after being away for the past 7, to work for IBM in Austin. I’m one happy Mom.

    His partner will be remain in Chicago looking towards a career in NYC. He is a great guy and I feel like I have two sons now. What is truly heartbreaking to me is that his parents will not acknowledge that he is gay nor will they let any of their relatives know. Small town mid-western mentality. He acknowledges Josh as being his true family. I wrote him an email the other night and told him he doesn’t just have Josh as family he has me as well. I am more then happy to be a Mom to him!!

    I cannot stand the ignorance in this world regarding homosexuality and transgender. I remember reading about Christine Jorgensen when I was a teen. I remember admiring her for her courage at such a juncture in history. However, we all have a right to be who we were born to be.

    Most parents of gay children I know are closeted about their children still, and don’t want to be friends with me. Their loss. Their children are amazing just the way they are and they should just accept it. I have a great-nephew who is gay yet my sister won’t acknowledge this to me. I want Jacob to know it’s OK to be who he is, that he has a gay cousin, and we shouldn’t have to avoid the subject.

    Ironically, none of my 3 macho brothers know my son is gay. Two are military vets and very homophobic. I want them to accept my son for who he is; thus have just let it be. Ironically, my ex is Persian, very homophobic yet knew my son was gay before I did. He never judged him or looked away as he is his son!!

    There is too much judgment in this world and enough is enough. It is easy to judge; yet it is more elating to accept. I am Jewish and all I ask of those who judge is what would Jesus do? He would chose love as that was his message to this world. Embrace the LGBT community and learn to coexist.

  • gablem

    @feminist: Interesting that you are so quick to call Ryland’s parents creepy and manipulative, when all they have really done is take him at his word. He says he is a boy, so they treat him as a boy. Are they perhaps a little too conforming to the gender binary? Maybe, but saying “OK Ryland, you say you are a boy and we believe you” is far better than saying “You say you’re a boy but we know better than you and you’re just a gender-non-conforming girl”. Not to mention, in the video it says they tried calling Ryland a tomboy and treating his masculinity like a phase but it wasn’t working. That Ryland is transgeder was their second conclusion, and it’s clear that he is much happier with that conclusion than the tomboy one.
    The pictures are of Ryland playing sports and drums because those are the pictures they have. They chose pictures and videos to illustrate Ryland growing up. Again, you can see plenty of traditionally masculine aspects to the pictures of Ryland when they thought he was a tomboy. That indicates to me that the parents would not deny a girl the chance to participate in sports or wear a spiderman halloween costume.
    I’d be interested to see a source for that 98% statistic, as well as a more in depth look at what those alleged 98% felt as children and how they grew up. Were they little girls who saw the freedom granted to little boys and declared “I wish I was a boy”? Were they little boys who knew that they were girls, but whose parents told them “No, you can’t be a girl, you have a penis”? Were they perhaps transgender individuals who couldn’t afford the transition? There are many reasons why a person who identifies as transgender would choose not to undergo treatment, and a change in their identity is the least common.
    No one is “dragging” Ryland to a clinic. He was given a traditionally male haircut and male clothing, which he clearly likes, and in the future he will have the option of taking puberty suppressants and transitioning. No doctor would help someone to transition without their full understanding and consent, no matter what their parents say. In fact, many doctors (if not all) require a referral from a psychiatrist, and will not provide anything other than puberty suppressants (which can be stopped at any time) to individuals under 16.
    P.S. He’s not being “paraded” around. His parents made a video about him, which thousands of parents do with less reason, and he made a short speech at an event by the Harvey Milk Foundation, which supports diversity in sexuality and gender identity, and so is exactly the kind of place where Ryland should be encouraged to tell about himself and speak his mind. This is not about Ryland’s parents; it’s about him.

  • trp76262

    @machineman: Great share. It was interesting and refreshing to read your post and learn a bit about your life story. You were very brave to go through with the entire gender reassignment process to allow yourself to be the person you were meant to be. I am thrilled to read that you are living a happy and better life. And, that your parents accept you for who you are.

    Ryland will have a greater chance growing up ‘normal’ because his parents took action at such a young age. I admit I had to watch the video before I could wrap my arms around a child making this change at such a young age. However, I agree with them and am glad that the medical community was so supportive. Again, I cannot fathom the loss of a child due to bullying and suicide. Every time I read about this I just ache for the life that was lost and the parents of these teens.

    Machineman, I’m a fan!!

  • makaylawinters

    This is the most ridiculous story I’ve ever heard. Seriously?? God obviously intended for Ryland to be a girl. What’s wrong with you people?

  • jayj150

    Why can’t they just let her have all of those interests and do all of those things while still being a girl?. What’so wrong with having a not-typically-feminine daughter.?.

  • Ashton

    @Jeffwhittington @Hillarywhittington @ryland Thank you so much for not only sharing your story, but acknowledging and understanding Ryland’s feelings/behavior. I acted and felt the same way since I was born and it was a struggle, a nightmare! I’m also transgender(female to male) and I identify as male.

    My mom, bless her heart, shared unconditional love for me. She let me dress an act how I felt, like a boy. My dad on the other hand, did not. So to all of you people with negative comments due to lack of knowledge and ignorance, let me tell you something.. Do you know what it’s like having a dad that forces you to get a girl style haircut? And what I mean by “forces,” is hardcore intimidation, in my face BS telling me I’m not a little boy, I’m a girl and I need to act like one.

    So, because I was picked on, beat up and called names my entire life and having an ignorant dad. I am now terrified of social acceptance in all aspects of life; college, jobs and just making new friends. So please, don’t do that to Ryland. He needs support, especially through social media, as it has become a main portal for socializing. Let’s move forward in life, not backwards; there’s no need for hate and/or ignorance.

    Thank you Ryland for sharing your life with us and thank you Jeff and Hillary for being AWESOME parents!!! I may not have received the same support growing up, but today, Ryland does and that is truly a blessing!!

  • punkin

    I wish nothing but blessings for this family. But God doesn’t make mistakes. Ryland was born a girl because thats exactly what God intended her to be. The road ahead is going to be long and tough. I wish them well.

  • Gordon

    Punkin: First: God didn’t make a mistake. And second: It would be in your interest I think not to speak for God lest he smack you a good one up side the head! He is perfectly capable of speaking for himself. And third: With parents like his, howeveer he turns out will be just fine, and that’s really none of our business.

  • cwhite

    What GREAT parents! This is AWESOME!???? Way to love your son!

  • cwhite

    What GREAT parents! This is AWESOME! Way to love your son!
    (No question marks, I tried to post hearts. I guess this site did not recognize them)

  • strong

    I am a transgender person myself, this boy will breeze through it like a piece of cake, I can say that having done it myself!!! And he will never have breasts or get a period, thanks to blockers and testosterone. It’s quite an easy transition when you do it before you hit puberty. I am married to a woman I have all of the same anatomy of a natural born male. Less the sperm, but there are a lot of infertile guys out there. Nobody but my family and wife know I am transgender, not that it’s a huge secret it’s just not relevant!!! My father donated sperm so my wife and I can have children and we are expecting our first baby boy in 18weeks!!! So you see people make out it’s such a huge thing, I don’t see it that way, good luck Ryland, you are a great young man already, you can do and be anything you want!!!! And be proud of it!!

  • CarrollAP

    We of the gay community definitely embrace our transgendered brothers and sisters. Thank God that he was blessed with such wonderful parents. The people who dumped you weren’t real friends to start with.

    Give me a hug from me!


  • CarrollAP

    Give him a hug from me. Mistyped.

  • Poppins Mary

    I’m all for making your kids happy and comfortable in their own skin, but I wouldn’t do anything irreversible at this age such as hormones and or surgery. Kids change their minds everyday… He could change his mind and want to be a girl again. And what’s with all the labels?! I thought labels were bad? Now they’re good? Why does a girl who likes trucks and sports need to be labeled as transgender? Why can’t she just be a girl that likes trucks and sports?

  • makaylawinters

    @gordon – God did speak for himself when he created Ryland a girl. If God wanted that family to raise a boy, He would have gave them one. This is ridiculous. I can’t believe people that support this…..absolutely crazy.

  • Mimmom

    @Poppins Mary: Some people don’t identify with the gender typically associated with their biological sex. Imagine being a girl and someone insisting you’re a boy even if you feel you aren’t. If it’s enough to make a child very unhappy that’s transgender. They really do identify with one gender and have sex characteristics of another. It’s not just being a tom boy or liking boy things. It goes deeper than that.

  • Tulley

    That’s gonna be one screwed up little girl when she gets older. You people should be ashamed of yourselves for condoning such abusive behavior because that’s exactly what this is: CHILD ABUSE. Shame on you all for toying with the innocence of a child.

  • Christine

    I really like this story. If one of my kids were transgendered I would also allow them to identify as what they felt they were. I knew I wanted to be a “baby animal caretaker” when I was 3-5 years old or a “dinosaur scientist”… my life didn’t go that way but I would still love to be either one of those things. I knew who I was at 3-5 years old as much as I know who I am now. Kids should be listened to. My only issue that this video brings up for me is that I wish that society wasn’t so polarized boy vs girl. B/c the truth is everyone has both parts of their personality and psyche and should be allowed to. I wish toy stores didn’t have BOY toys and GIRL toys, and I wish boys could wear dresses and paint their nails if they felt like it and not have it MEAN ANYTHING other than they like to. And I wish girls could be rough and tumble and play with cars and like sports without it having to mean anything other than they like that. I hope someday the world is more even, more open, to just let people…. be people.

  • Christine

    @Lusketrollet: I know that a lot of people in the deaf community feel that way and have issues with the implants. It’s hard for us in the hearing community to relate but I do know it’s a heated issue.

  • inbama


    It sounds like you did the right thing.

    Gays have a conflict with transgenders on this issue as many of us have gender issues in childhood. As any adult transgender person will tell you, we have a far easier life. Drastic surgeries that result in sterilization, endless hormone treatments (that can result in cancer),taking your life in your hands every time you use a public restroom – this is no recipe for a happy life. Gays and lesbians have been the victims of quack therapists before, and the idea that LGB children will be treated with opposite sex hormones at an early age and herded into this lifestyle is indeed frightening.

    Here’s one witness to gay gender dysphoria. Some psychologists say it is far more common than actual trangenderism. http://www.ted.com/talks/io_tillett_wright_fifty_shades_of_gay

  • makaylawinters

    @Tulley: amen!!

  • javataylorr

    The road may be difficult ahead during teenage years. But not as difficult as a trans with non supporting parents. I was just like ryland when I was a child. The biggest tomboy on the planet. When I got older I realized I was transgender. Mother and sisters and friends were supportive. My father was not. This did not bother me too much. But when I was 17 I really questioned myself. I also hated the idea of being called a he even though I wanted to look like one. I was never too masculine or feminine. I was in so much pain emotionally and one day I decided I was not going to be a slave to it any longer. I said to myself, I dont have to be a man or a woman. I just want to be me. I am going to experience this life how I am. Taylor, who has a burning passion for beautiful women. Taylor, who is just Taylor. Yes I am physically a woman, I have learned to love my body not because I was forced but because I wanted to. Yes I can lose a few pounds haha but I am just Taylor. Who is not to girly nor manly, who is kind to others, even those super religious freaks who hate gays. I changed my mind. Will ryland? We dont know. That is up to him. Not all trans people change their mind. I did. But all we can do for ryland is support him and love him. Life is not always pretty but love conquers all.

  • Mimmom

    @inbama: You make a very good point. It sounds like these parents are working carefully with their child. Right now it’s just the short hair, clothing and room decor they’re changing. They sought advice from counselors. I hope these counselors will take all that you’ve mentioned into account.

  • Mimmom

    @makaylawinters: If you haven’t lived this you wouldn’t know. Did you see the statistics on suicide attempt rates? 41% compared to 4.6 in the general population here in the USA. It should be enough to make people pay attention. I can’t fathom why this would bother you so much. It doesn’t hurt you and the psychologists all agree it would be harmful to force this child into being a girl when he feels like a boy. I’m pretty sure there will be no suggestion of permanent changes or medication at this point. They’ll take things slowly and work to make the right choices for their child.

  • Mimmom

    @Tulley: The parents consulted people who are experts on this stuff and who also are mandated reporters of abuse. This family acted on their advice. The child was miserable and the counselors said to transition immediately. They didn’t mean surgery or hormones, just clothing, hair, pronouns and that sort of thing. So I guess if this is abuse then the counselors are the abusers.

  • chskiebbnsiihb

    @nature boy: I don’t think you quite got the video. They obviously didn’t change over night. This was certainly a process. They also seemed professional help, and they quite possibly asked their child along the way what they thought. I can’t imagine they’d go that far by doing everything they wanted. The hair cutting even seemed gradual, and I’m sure part of the benefit was for their child. And ryland asked why did god do this…. And you made a statement about Christian parents. And about how you’re perfect just the way you are, well you are. Ryland is. There’s nothing wrong with telling your child they are perfectly fine just the way they are, I’ve gone through several major changes in my own life and my parents still see me as perfect just the way I am. You took everything very one sided…..

  • Tulley

    @Mimmom: Good for you for making that guess because it’s correct. These “counselors” are complicit in this abuse and so is anyone else who condones such psychobabble garbage. Non-acceptance isn’t the cause of a high suicide rate among LGBT people, it’s the fact that they are LGBT people to begin with. You never even remotely here that idea thrown around in fear of hurting their PC, overly sensitive feelings. There is a larger psychological, mental and especially spiritual problem with these people and all that’s being done is treatment of the symptoms, which does NOTHING to help. Go ahead, compromise your standards. Rationalize your religious doctrine. Accommodate every twisted way of life that declares itself as normal, natural and righteous. It will do NOTHING to stop the suicide rate of these people because they are simply unstable, period.

  • Mimmom

    @Tulley: I was NOT agreeing with you. I was saying that the counselors would have reported abuse if there WAS any. I don’t believe there was and I don’t believe that transition means anything medical. The child COULD feel differently later but prior to the haircut, clothing and pronoun accomodations the child was miserable. Now the child is happy. Sometimes you just have to be patient an listen to what the child is really telling you and that’s what these parents are doing.

  • Tulley

    @Ben Dover: Always nice to hear from some tolerant left wing progressive dipshit. At least being stupid won’t condemn someone to hell.

  • Tulley

    @Mimmom: And sometimes you have to differentiate between who’s the adult and who’s the child and not let children make detrimental decisions that will lead them down detrimental paths.

  • BJWilkins

    Wow this is sick and WRONG in so many ways. I was a “Tomboy” growing up . I hated dresses and frilly things , I hung out with mostly boys, I loved boy toys ( ladies I know u luv boy toys too ….now get ur mind out of the gutter ) , loved boy games , and was as fast and tough as any boy ( even beat out all the boys in my gym class by doing 250 sit ups when I was around 11-12), but I was still a girl and no big deal was made of it …….. until some time in my mid -teens physically the boys left me in the dust , I still preferred guy stuff , I would rather help and hang with my guy friends rebuild an engine , or play pool, than sit and chat and put on make up with the girly girls . I had nothing against the girly girls , I was left to be me and was NOT force just to be one “GENDER” or another . Look at all the extra attention this kid has gotten , even up on stage giving speeches getting applause , she ‘s like a Hollywood star now, little actor on stage , and oh , yes , the good parents getting hi-fives and pats on the back in their little circles and of coarse within the LGBT community . Stardom is hard to give up and for most children ends badly when the lime-light goes out. Why not just let this little girl be a Tomboy , obviously it’s the adults that have pushed one gender or another on this child , they are the ones who have told this child that there is a line and she can”t like boy things and be a girl “at 2 years old ” . So why not just let this girl be a tomboy , and let her decide later in life when her mind has mature what she wants to be . Isn’t it possible to not brand her as a boy and still allow her to be herself . I know , I know , that would hardly benefit anyone , all the extra attention for the kid and parents , and the LGBT would lose a post child , It would truly be nice if we could learn how to think and live life ourselves , and stop letting the so called “Experts” run our lives .

  • Facade767

    @feminist: I just wanted to share something that I, a trans woman who doesn’t have supporting parents/family, found in a medical journal in the library at my university while I was researching the transgender topic at one point in my life, trying to understand the turmoil deep within my heart. I feel it sums up the very basics of this situation quite well in any case. Even without this study, with the topic being personal, all I can do is give my support and love to this family who did what I consider to be one of the hardest, and yet most charitable and selfless things a family can do for a child.

    “In Japan, greater numbers of people with gender identity disorders (GID) are seeking professional help. The aim of our study is to show the clinical significance of classifying them into two subgroups when we address biological males with GID. From January 2001 to August 2009, 27 biological male patients with GID were consecutively examined at a university hospital in a major city in Japan. We formulated patients’ own past history concerning their gender identity on the basis of their narratives presented in several interviews. The present study suggested that Japanese biological male patients with GID who have, since childhood, manifested a special longing for feminine clothes and behaviors, could be positioned as a “core group;” and, patients with an uncomfortable feeling about their own sex that did not appear until adolescence could be positioned as a “periphery group.” As a result of psychotherapy in our samples, while the “core group” patients did not waver in their conviction that “I am a woman,” the cross-gender identification eventually disappeared in the “periphery group.” Identifying these two subgroups proved to be of great importance in deciding the management strategy for biological males with GID.”

    “We looked at the clinical differences between the “core group” and the “periphery group.”
    These clinical distinctions are important, because of the completely different way of handling each group. In the former psychotherapy, the desire to become a woman should be
    supportively assisted; whereas in the latter, psychotherapy is more effective than treatment to fulfill the patient’s desire to be a woman.”

    Furuhashi, Tadaaki MD. “Biological Male “Gender Identity Disorder” Is Composed of Essentially Distinguishable Core and Periphery Groups.” Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry Volume 13: 64-75. Web.

  • drey

    AS a grandparent of a 21 year old male to female trans, she has already attempted suicide and wakes up with the nightmare of being in the wrong body. We are a very loving home of five people – her mom, her sister and two grandparents and Vallery. She has been in therapy for 6-7 years and has been diagnosed with gender identity disorder at Children’s Hospital in Phila. PA. She has been spit upon at both Intermediate and High School…but did graduate. We are supporting her 100% and it is my wish that society will become educated on this diagnosis. In Sept., she will undergo Vaginoplasty surgery. My friends ask me if this will make her happy…my answer is that this will make her comfortable in her own body. This is all out=of=pocket cost because the medical insurance companies are having a hard time understanding this diagnosis. I wonder how we can go forward to change that. Praise to Ryland’s parents. And to those who remain ignorant, I ask God’s forgiveness, because everyone should treat others as they would wish to be treated. Sorry for being long-winded

  • Throbert McGee

    GODDAMNIT I hate Queerty’s comments system. (Just lost a 3-paragraph comment because I was “posting too fast,” even though it was in fact my first Queerty comment since Thursday or Friday.)

  • Throbert McGee

    The gist of my comment is that not getting cochlear implants for a Deaf child whose hearing would be improved by them is not unlike Vietnamese immigrants who decided to homeschool their American-born child in a Vietnamese-only environment and forbade the kid from watching English-language TV or hanging out with English-speaking friends until he was 18, “so that he wouldn’t lose touch with Vietnamese culture.”

    Anyone ever read Internet comments from a born-Deaf individual who never got cochlear implants and who grew up using ASL only (rather than “signed English”)? Quite often, their written English is borderline gibberish — they may have been “in touch with ASL Deaf culture,” but at the expense of being highly ghettoized.

  • Throbert McGee

    @Facade767: Thanks for posting about that Japanese study — it does seem like common sense that not all individuals with GID are in fact “truly trans”, though I suspect some in the “T community” would rather not deal with such distinctions because they want to maximize the number of “T people.”

    P.S. I’m reminded that in Silence of the Lambs, it was a significant plot-detail that Jame Gumb was “not really trans” (and had therefore been rejected by every sex-reassignment center in the country), even though he fantasized about becoming a woman.

  • Throbert McGee

    Quite often, their written English is borderline gibberish

    Apologies to deaf people if this seems like an unfair generalization — but I’ve observed it a few times myself, and I once had a friend who taught undergrad science to deaf students in Rochester. According to her, there were MAJOR differences in English literacy between those who’d been totally deaf from birth, and those who either (a) could hear in early childhood but became deaf later, or (b) received cochlear implants to improve their hearing.

    Complete lifelong deafness makes it significantly harder to learn how to write in English (or to read closed-captions on TV and DVDs!)

  • NancyP

    I was so moved by this video. Our son was also born a baby girl. He wasn’t so convicted in being a boy so young – he always played the dad when playing but at 13 told us “she” was a lesbian. We supported her every step of the way. By 16 the struggling of puberty and social anxiety was noticeably strong. We sought out for council and as time passed we made every decision we felt best for his well being. He was suicidal. It was hard. He became a very butch lesbian. At 18 (last year) in October he told us he was dysphoric. We immediately sought therapy to begin the process to become my son. Now 8 months later after 2 months on Testosterone he is comfortably happy as a handsome son and loved by his siblings and friends. He told the therapist that he would not be here today without us, his parents as he would have taken his life. I can not imagine that he had to go through such hell. The road is long for him but he is headed in the right direction. Like you said in the video- compared to an unhealthy child…this is nothing. I love him so much.

  • carolinagirl84

    Horrible parents she is too young to know what she is and west is going on she should be taken away!

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