A YouTube video with more than three millon views tells the story of just one child but it has many people talking.
The seven-minute video explains the story of a six-year-old transgender child, Ryland Whittington, who was born a girl but, according to her parents, began insisting she was a boy as soon as she could speak.
“This is my sister Brynly, and I’m her brother, Ryland,” a young Ryland can be heard saying in the video, posted last week to his family’s YouTube page.
The video’s narrative explains that Ryland’s parents, Jeff and Hillary Whittington, discovered around Ryland’s first birthday that their daughter was deaf. After being fitted with cochlear implants and learning to hear and speak, some of Ryland’s first words were, “I am a boy.”
The Whittingtons, who declined to comment, said they consulted with professionals and soon realized that Ryland’s desire to be a boy was more than just a tomboy phase.
“With phases they just come and go or kids try things on for a little while,” San Diego-based gender therapist Darlene Tando told ABC News. “But with gender identity, when a child is transgender, typically nothing fades in or out. It just really stays the same for a long time.”
The Whittingtons then made the decision to change Ryland’s identity, cutting his hair, referring to Ryland only as “he” and sending a letter to family and friends about the change.
“There are huge benefits of doing this earlier in life,” said Tando. “It’s really just like they have been given this gift that everyone around them starts seeing them for who they are.”
Ryland himself spoke out about his transition at an event last month in the family’s home state of California honoring the Whittington family.
“My name is Ryland Michael Whittington,” he said at the 6th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast in San Diego. I’m a transgender kid. I am six. I am a cool kid.”
“I am the happiest I have ever been in my whole life,” Ryland said at the breakfast. “Thank you to my parents.”