Jeff and Hillary Whittington were thrilled to find out they were expecting their first child, a girl, in 2007. As Ryland got older, however, she started proclaiming things like "I'm a boy" and "When the family dies, I will cut my hair so I can be a boy." Ryland also asked, "Why did God make me this way?" The Whittingtons soon realized this wasn't just a tomboy phase. They refused to let their child become another alarming statistic: Per The Williams Institute, "41% of transgender people have attempted suicide due to the lack of societal acceptance."
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Jeff and Hillary were advised to let Ryland make the male-to-female transition as soon as possible. Today, they're the parents of a happy, healthy boy. "Relative to the horrific things that people have to endure with their children all over the world, this is nothing. He is still healthy, handsome, and EXTREMELY happy! We signed up as parents with no strings attached. This is our family and this is our AMAZING son," they write in the touching video they made to document Ryland's story.
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The Whittingtons were honored with the Inspiration Award at the 6th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast last Thursday. "My name is Ryland Michael Whittington. I am a transgender kid," Ryland said to the room of 1,000-plus people." Jeff Whittington thanked Harvey Milk for encouraging people to come out, "To let their voices be heard; break down the walls, break down the barriers and start allowing people to see them for their authentic selves and be true to themselves. This is our coming out [...] this is us making our voices heard."This is what unconditional parental love looks like.