Hey Brother

Much like everyone else, I was instantly mesmerized with the beautiful story of Ryland Whittington, who’s parents made the brave choice to accept their child for who he is, transgender. Ryland (now seven) often lashed out, saying he hated himself & someday when his family died, he would live as a boy the way he was supposed to. His parents Jeff & Hillary consulted doctors & therapists, who all came to the same conclusion; Ryland was exhibiting feelings of a transgendered male who wanted acceptance. So they did. Their video explaining to friends & family that Ryland would now use male pronouns & live as a male went viral & they received the Inspiration Award at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast.

However, instead of celebrating this family & their demonstration of unconditional love in a time when so many children talk of coming out to find their parents do not accept them, many bloggers & commenters claimed that these parents were actually abusing their son (before I get hatred, I want to remind you that Ryland identifies as male, so I will refer to him as the Whittington’s son).

Wait, what?

Self proclaimed “Speaker of absolute truths,” Matt Walsh claims that Ryland is too young to understand something as huge as gender & he’s confused & his parents shouldn’t have allowed it. Fox News correspondent Keith Ablow said Ryland should have been prescribed anti-psychotic medication. Both of these men stated clearly that Ryland was too young to understand what being a boy was, despite the American Association of Pediatrics saying gender identity is determined at four (Ryland was five when he began his transition).

When I pointed this out in the comment section of Walsh’s blog, along with the fact that he is not a doctor and has never met Ryland. Many of his commenters replied that doctors don’t really know anything so they were unqualified, but Walsh speaks truth. One caught my eye & inspired this post, so thank you commenter, whom I’ll call “Bigoted Psycho (or BP for short).

BP mentioned that doctors don’t know anything. She was diagnosed as bipolar, then with General Anxiety Disorder. But she knew her body & that these weren’t working & found other, natural methods to curb her anxiety & now she’s happy.

Wait, so what BP was saying is by understanding the feelings in her body, she was able to effectively convey them to a medical professional who was able to diagnose her & help her feel okay? So, when Ryland Whittington told his family he felt his body was wrong & he didn’t feel right & needed help, he was able to convey that & feel okay?

No, BP says. Ryland is a child. She was a teenager. It’s TOTALLY different. Oh, okay.

I don’t know the Whittington’s. I am not a doctor. I am not even very smart most days. But I am a parent. I love my girls more than life & I want them to be happy. I want them to know that I’ll love them if they’re LGBT, or straight, if they go to college & become doctors or if they work @ Burger King for life. I also want them to know if they feel something isn’t right, that I’ll be there for them. Whether their stomach is upset or they feel like they’re in the wrong body & they hate themselves. I want them to know that I will understand & accept them. I am their mother & it’s my job to give them the safe haven from cruel people like Matt Walsh, or BP, or the bully down the road & that they can tell me ANYTHING & I’ll help them any way I can. The Whittington’s obviously felt the same way & I have nothing but respect for them.

It’s okay not to understand what it means to be transgendered. I don’t 100% understand. But I’m learning so if I meet a trans person I can get to know them on a human level & not ask a million intrusive questions (I’m a journalist; we ask a lot of questions). But it’s not okay to tell them how they feel about what’s going on in their body is wrong. It’s not okay to tell them it’s a phase. It’s not okay to call them “it” or say they’re confused & this magic pill will fix it. It’s not okay to say that to any LGBT kid. If you don’t understand, then take the time to learn. Try to see things from their POV. I bet we’d be burying fewer LGBT kids who took their own lives if we did. And if you can’t understand, STFU. There’s lots of things I don’t agree with in the world but I’ve learned that, despite Matt Walsh’s claims, there is no absolute truth other than we are all born & we all die. Everything else is a big gray area. So, instead of judging the gray that you don’t like, focus on your own gray.

36 thoughts on “Hey Brother

  1. For a lot of parents, acceptance does not come easy. I’m sure they have their reasons. And, for parents who still love their kids after such changes, I admire them for the respect and understanding.

  2. I admire anyone who has compassion. You don’t have to understand, and I admit I don’t. But, that doesn’t stop me from seeing someone as a person and respecting them!

  3. I think it really is great to respect no matter any choice. It doesn’t make the person bad for loving something different than another. They still have the kindness inside of them no matter what they love. Great post!

  4. I don’t think I could have said it better than you: there is no absolute truth other than we are all born & we all die. Everything else is a big gray area. So, instead of judging the gray that you don’t like, focus on your own gray. Thank for lighting this subject of transgender bias.

  5. As a parent I can only imagine how hard it is. But I could never not accept my child for something like that. You definitely have to admire parents who can accept their kids even if they don’t fully understand whats going on. You don’t have to have to understand someone or their situation to love them and see the good in them.

  6. i feel for the parents and their child/children. this has to be such a hard thing to deal with it. but in the end we love our kids no matter what

  7. This would definitely be hard but I think parents have to respect their children’s wishes. I think that some parents are so wrapped up i what they want that its hard for them to wrap their mind around these type of things.

  8. If a parent loves their child I don’t think it would be hard for them to go with the child’s wishes. I say Kodos to any parent that has to deal with this and excepts their child for who or what that child is wants.

  9. Acceptance is not an easy job, but because we have our own reason, I only have 1 child and his a 6months Old. So i cannot say anything more. Thanks for sharing though. Great Post.

  10. Acceptance is hard for some people and it’s understandable especially for people who were brought up in a different time. It’s hard to do, but I believe it’s important for everyone to become more accepting of who a person is and what defines them as them self.

  11. I think the more important part is the acceptance by the parents and that they took initiative in knowing what’s wrong with their kid.

  12. This goes against my beliefs, but who am I to judge another family. You aren’t born like this, unless then you have both parts, then that’s a whole another story. But these are my thoughts, no one has to agree. I don’t see how parents could play along with their kids.

  13. So glad to have found your blog. me likes. Keep living the passion and figuring it out.

  14. I have nothing against sexual preference i’m no one to judge, I’ve teenager son (14) and daughter If my son now tells me he think he likes boys or he feels like a girl I would be totally supportive, but, for me, kids at 3 to 7 years old are not ready to make a decision that big I’m no doctor just a mom and an aunt to 6 little boys and 3 girls ad helped raise them all. IMHO

  15. Love this: there is no absolute truth other than we are all born & we all die!!! So true. Thanks for a great post

  16. I saw the video when it went viral. I’m so happy to read a blog post about it. I think it’s amazing that his parents accept him who he is. People need to be more educated about transponders.

  17. In our country, they are not yet fully understood or accepted. However, I admire parents like you and the Whittington. Kudos to you.

  18. I think that it is hard to pass judgement unless you have dealt with the same thing.

  19. I would support my child but I would not allow any surgeries until they were an adult and can make the decision on their own. I believe people who be who they want and if transgendered is who they are there is no one who should judge them on that. Great post!

  20. As a mother of two young boys I pray that my family never faces anything like this. Not from fear or intolerance, but from the hard choices, pressure, and lives these loved ones will have to lead. No parent ever wants their child to endure hardships but at the same time will help them to achieve happiness at all costs.

  21. I hadn’t heard of Ryland until now. It sounds like I’m in the minority though, your readers seem very familiar with it based on the comments.

  22. The process of acceptance of LGBT community is a lot easier today than the time where people are so stiff on their culture and narrow mind, this story is inspiring indeed and I salute the LGBT community as well as the people who open their hearts and mind for them

  23. A-freakin’-men!
    You know, if the little boy had been accepted and loved by his parents regardless of what he chose to do, say, or identify as then (if he changes his mind in the future) there is always the security there to decide for himself, once again, what is best. Instead of being labelled, drugged, a topic of discussion and upset- the child was nurtured, supported and cared for.
    I see nothing wrong with that.

    ~ Saying hi from the Dish ~

  24. I think all parents should love their children and there is a small percentage that just dont know how to deal with this situation, Most imbrace love and the choices that their child makes.

    I dont think that it should be up to anyone to interfere with someones choices, in the end its not our life

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