There's not much a small child needs other than food, shelter, love, and acceptance. The last two items on this list may be some of the hardest to provide, however, especially when one's child doesn't fit into the path either their parents or society might expect. This is the hard truth Jeff and Hillary Whittington had to face when they discovered that their child, Ryland, is transgender.
Ryland was born in 2007 and as their child grew, the Whittingtons noticed that Ryland wasn't just a tomboy and that he wasn't just going through a phase. This became even more clear when Ryland, who was born biologically female, told his parents that when the family died he would cut his hair and become a boy. He also asked his parents why god had made him the way he was. Faced with the discovery of Ryland's gender identity and recognizing that Ryland was feeling such shame and pain so early in his young life, the Whittingtons knew that they wanted Ryland to express his true self. Awesome parenting, you guys. I'm pretty sure all of us want parents who are as open and accepting as you are.
The Whittingtons shared their story with the following video at The Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast last week. I wasn't there, but I can't imagine there was a dry eye in the house after watching this video of the Whittingtons' journey. Check it out and make sure you have a couple of tissues handy.
And as if the video isn't enough (it's totally enough), the Whittingtons also had an inspiring message for the audience assembled at the breakfast. From The Huffington Post:
"One of the most inspiring things that Harvey Milk had done as far as our family is concerned," Jeff Whittington said to the crowd, "was to encourage 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, and this is our coming out … this is us making our voices heard."
Excuse me while I go ugly-cry my way through the afternoon.
Image credit: Youtube