In this heartfelt and emotional video, Jeff and Hillary Whittington found out that they were having a baby girl. They decorated a room full of pink (which brings up another issue related with the sex of a child) and bought many pink clothes. The family faced a struggle when they found out that Ryland was deaf at the age of one. They invested in cochlear implants, which allowed Ryland the ability to hear and speak. Between their son’s 3rd and 5th birthday, he began saying, “I am a boy!” How should a parent react when their child starts rejecting anything feminine? Of course they do not want their child to feel any less loved because of his human instincts. While many others are telling Ryland’s parents it is just a phase, should they watch the phase happen or should they take action? How long should they wait for this “phase” to be over before they recognize that their daughter is truly their son? Ryland said, “When the family dies, I will cut my hair so I can be a boy.” A quote like that coming from a five year old is extremely powerful. This child did not want to live like he had been, and it was crucial that his parents began listening to how he really felt.
Ryland is a Transgender.
What is transgender exactly?
A transgender faces a point where their sex does not match their sexuality. This individual was born as a certain sex, but does not feel that they can be categorized within those limits. In Ryland’s case, he felt that he did not belong. Society has formed a “norm” which states that individuals who do not fall within the lines of male or female and heterosexual do not fit in. This becomes clear with the statistic that states, “41% of transgender people have attempted suicide due to the lack of societal acceptance.”
Ryland’s family did not want to put their child in that situation so they took matters into their hands and engaged in a transition.
As I mentioned before, the binary’s categories say that if you are a male, then you are masculine and if you are a female, then you are feminine. In Transgendering, Kimberly Tauches says, “Society dictates what is considered normal for a person in terms of their gender identity; individuals use hair-style, clothing, mannerisms, and ways of talking to express the appropriate gender.” In the video, Ryland’s parents expressed this quote by showing that they cut his hair and changed his room. It’s interesting that Ryland noticed the binary at five years old. Was it he who felt that he needed to get his hair cut in order to be a boy? Or have a green and blue room because those are “boy” colors? Did his parents have a role in this so that he fit into the social “norm”?
There is a term called gender attribution that consists of behavior, appearance and social norms and how they coincide when two people interact. From that point on, an individual is expected to perform as that gender identity would. I feel that Ryland’s parents allowed these characteristics to change in order to prevent him from being questioned or made fun of, as he got older.
I found it amazing that Ryland’s parents went through with the change in effect of him being happy, regardless of what others had to say. They had gone through the obstacle of a deaf child to find out that Ryland was a boy. At the end of it all, the only thing they wanted was for him to be happy and healthy. In my opinion, Ryland’s parents absolutely did the right thing. I think it is important that a parent is there to listen to their child, even when it is something that they may not necessarily want to hear. Many kids are afraid of upsetting their parents or being “different.” In the end, due to the stress of trying to fit in and pleasing everyone, Ryland could have been another number in the statistic.
Ryland’s parents took extreme criticism for undergoing the sex change. How could this five-year old child know that he wanted to be a boy? What if he changes his mind? Did they do the right thing by listening to him? Why do people think that your reproductive organs define your sex? Is it better that they made this change while Ryland was younger vs. when he was a teenager?