Ryland Whittington is a six-year-old transgender boy who has become a YouTube sensation due to the heartwarming video that his parents uploaded, which tells the story of his life and transition. Jeff and Hillary Whittington learned that their son was deaf when he was about one year old, soon after which he had surgery to receive cochlear implants. Soon after, Jeff and Hillary recall that Ryland would yell at them repeatedly, "I am a boy!"
Ryland began showing aversion to anything feminine, and his inclination towards typical boys' clothing and activities grew stronger. When he was five years old, Jeff and Hillary realized that Ryland was not simply a "tomboy" and that he was not just going through "a phase". The two of them sought the help of doctors and experts, all of whom came to the same conclusion: Ryland was transgender.
Jeff and Hillary were already planning on accepting their son for who he was. But after learning a startling statistic--that 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide due to lack of societal acceptance--they supported Ryland's desire to transition as soon as possible. He cut his hair, switched his preferred pronouns, and his parents sent out a letter to family and friends notifying them of the change.
Though Jeff and Hillary received some criticism, they also received a lot of love and support, and know that Ryland's transition is what was best for him. He is happy, healthy, and able to embrace his true identity. Ryland spoke about being transgender at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast last Thursday, during which he said, "I am the happiest I have been in my whole life," and thanked his parents.
Many transgender people figure out their gender between three and five years old. This is a crucial time in any child's development, and they are seriously impacted by whether or not they are being supported by those around them. This holds true even more so for transgender kids, who are struggling with their identity and are afraid of disappointing their loved ones.
Watch Ryland's video here: