By Mitch Kellaway
Originally published on Advocate.com May 31 2014 4:17 PM ET
When Ryland, the 5-year-old child of San Diego residents Hillary and Jeff Whittington, insisted he was a boy, the couple did what they thought any parent should do: they listened.
Although declared female at birth, Ryland began identifying as male and asking for masculine clothes and playthings as soon as he could speak. His parents initially believed he was a “tomboy” or “going through a phase,” but his persistence encouraged them to do their own research on childhood gender identity. They could only come to one conclusion: Ryland is transgender.
Already aware that Ryland’s feelings about his gender had started tending towards shame, the Whittington's became concerned when they read that transgender people are nearly 10 times more likely to attempt suicide than the national average. Their next move became clear: for his well-being and happiness, they would help Ryland live as a boy. They cut his hair short, bought him boy’s clothing, redecorated his room, and report that Ryland is now a joyful child.
“We signed up as parents with no strings attached,” they write in a video about raising Ryland that was originally screened, the San Diego LGBT Weekly reports, as they accepted an Inspiration Award at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast earlier this month.
The touching photo montage, which has since gone viral and collected over two million views on YouTube, has received an outpouring of gratitude from viewers who have lauded the Whittington’s dedication to supporting their son in being who he knows himself to be. Watch it below.