Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Raising Ryland

This weekend I finished listening to the book Raising Ryland: Our Story of Parenting a Transgender Child with No Strings Attached. It was a quick read which it kept me interested the entire time. I found myself listening to the book in the car on my way to and from the grocery store, at night before bed, while doing the dishes, etc.

The fact that the Whittington's (Ryland's parents) live so close, are around the same age as Dallas and I, that they have kids close to the same ages as ours made it impossible to for me not to put myself in their position and to think about what I would have done if it were me in their shoes.  After hearing the whole story, I honestly feel like I wouldn't have done a single thing differently with the small exception that I probably would be in jail for murdering my detractors instead of treating them with understanding and kindness like Hillary Whittington did! :)

In a chance encounter last week, Dallas met Hillary on an airplane and we'd heard of the book as they have the same publisher as us, but I had no idea that they lived in San Diego and that Ryland even goes to the same school as one of Archie's cousins. So I got the book because I wanted to learn more. 

I will admit, that while being not remotely anti-transgender in the past I've had questions and doubts about the health, both mental and physical of being trangender. I just didn't know if it was the opposite of learning to love yourself for who you really were in the body that you were born with. I never felt any hatred or anything like that, I just wondered about it, and it nagged in the back of my mind and kept me from speaking openly about it.

I feel like knowing Hillary's whole story as she lived it, helped me to understand the subject matter in a way I didn't before. In a more human way.

Hearing about the shame and despair that little Ryland felt prior to them accepting him as a boy made my heart ache. As a mom, it killed me. To think that some of my friends who are transgender have experienced this their whole life is terrible and makes me feel bad for not taking the time to learn more about it earlier and reaching out to them.

To think that this poor sweet kid had to deal with first being deaf and then not being able to be who he really was inside and essentially feeling totally trapped, kills me. It's not about a girl who likes boy things or being a tomboy it's about identifying as a boy and everyone else wanting you to be a girl.

The statistics of transgender people who attempt to take their own lives is ten times the national average. If that isn't a statistic to scare the living bejeezus out of a mother of a transgender child then I don't know what is! It also scares me. By sharing her personal story, Hillary has lent empathy to a subject which might otherwise bring confusion and separation and I think that by doing so she has taken a huge step toward bringing about understanding and love which is what will change these statistics in the end. 

I have tremendous amount of respect for this mother who had to go through a lot of soul searching and soul crushing moments, bravery and fear, lack of understanding and support from those closest to her and managed to persevere because of her unconditional love for her child and turn all of that into something happy and healthy for everyone involved.

Ryland is very lucky to have such an awesome family who is so dedicated to his protection, well being and happiness just as they are lucky to have such a strong, smart and handsome kid.

I hope we get to meet and that our families can get together some day soon, but until then, you have my whole family's love, compassion, respect and support.


  1. You have such a good heart Jenna. :-)

  2. This is the most touching topic i guess. A usessaywriters writing service review can help you with more research of your article. Transgenders are the most neglected humans in any country and also treated disrespectfully.