Jeff and Hillary Whittington thought that finding out their one-year-old daughter was deaf was the greatest parenting challenge they would ever face. But they soon realised this was just one of many challenges their child would have to overcome in a society that thrives on picking on others’ differences.
As their daughter Ryland grew up, the Whittingtons noticed that she didn’t seem to like anything girly. For a while they put it down to Ryland being a tomboy, but it soon became clear that the tomboy phase was not one that Ryland was going to grow out of.
At 5 years old, Ryland started saying things like, “When the family dies, I will cut my hair so I can be a boy,” and asked her parents, “Why did God make me like this?”
Soon enough, their suspicions were confirmed: Ryland was transgender.
The Whittingtons knew that how they responded to the news was crucial. Their son could either join the 41% of transgender people who have attempted suicide at some point due to a lack of social acceptance, or they could help lower this statistic.
Thankfully, they chose the latter.
In just a few days, ‘Ryland’s story’ has already touched nearly three million people around the world. And when you watch the video, you’ll understand why.
In case you can’t see the video:
In a perfect world the Whittingtons’ story would be so uneventful that no one would even bat an eyelid at Ryland’s transition. But sadly we don’t yet live in a perfect world.
We live in one where fear and hatred of the LGBTQ community still cause many people to hide, live in shame or harm themselves because they’re afraid of what society will think.
And that’s exactly why the Whittingtons have made their son’s story public knowledge.
They told the Huffington Post, “While this journey has been difficult at times, we have come to a place where our family is ready to come out and try to help other families facing similar situations. Our hope is that by sharing our story, we can begin to make the world a more loving place where people can be their authentic selves.”
Thanks to this one video, we might just be one tiny step closer to getting there.
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