I had actually heard of Ryland Whittington before, when I saw a youtube video about him back in 2014 I believe. Once I saw that this book was available on Edelweiss I knew I needed to get it. Not only is this family an inspiration, they also seem very kind, funny and down to earth. This book Raising Ryland is written by Rylands mom, Hillary Whittington.
Ryland was born a beautiful baby girl, who happened to also be deaf. Although the Whittington’s didn’t know she was deaf for the first year of her life, when they did find out, they immediately got her the help that she needed. She received surgery to give her cochlear implants, and eventually she was on the right track for her age group, with talking and learning new ways to communicate. As soon Ryland turned two years old, she kept telling her family that she was a boy, and she would only want to wear boy clothes. This went so far, that Ryland would want to wear boy underwear, and would kick and scream and put up a fight if she had to wear a dress or clothes that she considered for a girl.
The Whittington’s first met this new phase of their daughters life with a little bit of unease, first they assumed she was a tomboy. Eventually they realized that that wasn’t it at all, Ryland was transgender. She actually was a boy, with features of a girl. After they realized that this was the truth, they sought out more help for Ryland. Eventually, they changed she/her pronouns to he/his, and let Ryland pick out the clothes that he wanted to wear, as well as cut his hair. This changed their child from a sullen and prone to outbursts kid to a sweet and cheerful little boy.
Of course, their decision to let Ryland transition was not always met with the acceptance and love that they wanted it to be, so some of their relationships faltered. This was okay with them, because they knew that they loved Ryland, and the less negative people he had in his life, the better. Ryland has since become an inspiration in the LGBTQ community, winning awards, and all around just being an adorable little boy. I loved this story, it made me cry so many times! This story needs to be read by everyone, especially people who do not understand what transgender means, or people who need to learn what acceptance is. If you want to see the video that started it all check it out: here.
This book gets a huge 5 out of 5 for me, I would love to meet this kid and give him a huge hug. He’s so brave and such an inspiration!