When Jeff and Hillary Whittington’s child, Ryland, first learned to speak, this was the declaration they heard: “I am a boy.”
Born with severe hearing issues that only began healing with the help of cochlear implants, it was somewhat of a miracle that Ryland could even speak at all.
As Ryland grew older, Jeff and Hillary noticed their child increasingly began identifying as a male. At one point, Ryland reportedly asked, “Why did God make me like this?”
After it became clear that Ryland’s masculine sensibilities were not simply a passing phase, the Whittingtons decided to embrace their now-son’s self-identification. According to the New York Daily News, the parents were troubled by the high rate of suicide amongst transgendered individuals and they wanted Ryland to be socially accepted at a young age.
The Whittington family was recently honored at the 6th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast in San Diego, where they currently reside. As part of their presentation, they debuted a video that explains their story. The video features pictures documenting Ryland’s progression throughout his life. It demonstrates how the Whittingtons remained committed to their child’s happiness first and foremost despite all the issues they faced.
Towards the end of the video, footage of the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast shows Ryland onstage speaking in front of the audience. He says: “My name is Ryland Michael Whittington. I am a transgender kid... I am a cool kid.”