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).
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.