SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- In 2014, the Whittingtons shared their story about their first-born child in a video that went viral.
Ryland was born a girl. “As soon as Ryland could speak, she would scream, ‘I am a boy!’” the video explained. As Ryland got older, the feelings got stronger.
After consulting professionals and experts, parents Jeff and Hillary Whittington came to the conclusion Ryland was transgender. For their child’s well-being, they decided to allow him to transition as soon as possible.
Today, the YouTube video about Ryland's journey has more than 8 million views.
In a 2016 interview with 10News, Jeff Whittington explained some of the criticism his family received. “They think that this is something that just happened overnight. We just made this split-second decision and our son said, ‘I feel like a boy.’ And we said great. And that wasn’t the case,” he said.
Hillary Whittington wrote a book about their journey, Raising Ryland.
"I think people are definitely opening their minds a lot more,” Hillary Whittington said, as she reflected on their family’s journey over the past several years.
Jeff explained how they try to deal with those who do not agree with their family’s decision. “We recognize that a lot of that comes from background, stories, and experiences they’ve had. We tend to take that negativity and try and understand what the source of that may be and try and find empathy for those that are critical,” he said.
Ryland, now 12-years-old, said he is comfortable with his story being so public. “I know it helps a lot of people,” he said.
Last year, his family hosted a “coming out party” to share with loved ones. Ryland gave a speech in front of his friends and others close to him. “It’s not a secret, but for many years I’ve kept it private because I was afraid you might treat me differently or not look at me the same if you knew,” he said. “When I was born, the doctors told me that I was a girl. But they were wrong. In my head and in my heart, I’ve always been a boy.”
Ryland is about to enter seventh grade. He loves math and sports—his favorites are ice hockey and lacrosse.
He shared what Pride month means to him. “Pride month is just a month of showing who you are and showing that you support who people want to be,” Ryland said.
“We’re grateful for who our kids are. They’ve taught us so much about life and I wouldn’t a thing about them,” Hillary said.
For those who still have negative things to say about their family, Ryland’s 8-year-old sister shared her thoughts. “I would want to say to them that I don’t care what they think and that I am happy to be who I am and who my family is,” Bryn said.
“She took the words right out of my mouth!” Ryland echoed.