This powerful, moving story - which has already touched more than seven million through a viral video created by the Whittington family - is a mother's firsthand account of her emotional choice to embrace her transgender child.
When Hillary and Jeff Whittington posted a YouTube video chronicling their five-year-old son Ryland's transition from girl to boy, they didn't expect it to be greeted with such fervor. Beautiful and moving, the video documenting Hillary and Jeff's love for their child instantly went viral and has been seen by more than seven million viewers since its posting in May 2014.
Now, for the first time, they tell their story in full, offering an emotional and moving account of their journey alongside their exceptional child. After they discovered their daughter, Ryland, was deaf at age one and needed cochlear implants, the Whittingtons spent nearly four years successfully teaching Ryland to speak. But once Ryland gained the power of speech, it was time for them to listen as Ryland insisted, "I am a boy!" And listen they did. After learning that 41 percent of people who identify as transgender attempt to take their own lives, Hillary and her husband, Jeff, made it their mission to support their child - no matter what.
From the earliest stages of deciphering Ryland through clothing choices to examining the difficult conversations that have marked every stage of Ryland's transition, Hillary Whittington shares her experiences as a mother through it all, demonstrating both the resistance and support that their family has encountered as they try to erase the stigma surrounding the word transgender. In telling her family's story, she hopes she can assist the world in accepting that even children as young as five can have profound and impactful things to say and share. What emerges is a powerful story of unconditional love, accepting others for who they are, and doing what's right regardless of whether those around you understand it.
©2015 Hillary Whittington (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
I preordered this book and listened to it in one day. There are so many lessons we can all learn and apply to life regardless of our individual situations. I wish this family all the best in life to come. I thank them for their bravery and openness on a topic that society is painfully slow to accept. I feel honored to have heard their story and I strongly recommend every person take this very special opportunity to listen to this incredible book.
To the Whittington family- Thank you. As a SLP student I am so glad you included Ryland's journey from the very beginning. Your family is a wonderful example for the world to follow. Thank you for your honesty and candor about the most difficult, personal challenges as individuals, a couple, parents, and a family.
If you are ever in Cleveland, Ohio, there is a safe place for your family.
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
If you are at all like me, maybe you are getting tired of reading newspaper articles on the controversial transgender bathroom issue? Thinking it is a bunch of hooey and needs to just go away? I was tending toward that thinking and realized I needed to have more information, to see what the "hype" was all about. I was really feeling ignorant and along with that, guilty about my ignorance. After all, I have seen a very nice family in my neighborhood for several years with what seems to be a transgender little one growing up.
So when I saw this title, I knew I needed to listen to it. It took me a short while to get used to the mom and author's voice. Hillary Whittington sounds so incredibly young. I also had to get past what I initially interpreted as her preachiness. However, as I listened to her story, I realized in some way she needed to be a bit preachy, as she really wanted to get her message across. One of her purposes in writing this book, exposing her child to the world, was the need to educate the public. That is, people like me, who have never encountered this challenge before, never even contemplated it, who may have unjustified preconceived notions.
The Whittington's story is very moving and touching. I applaud these parents for really taking the time to think about the consequences of their actions and for treating their child in the best way they possibly could, all the while breaking new ground. In reality, they were treading where very few have gone before. And all of this with such a very young child.
I can see why you might be thinking that a very young child could not even fathom what a gender mixup could feel like. If you are thinking that, then this book could be very informative and educational for you. I strongly recommend it. As they say, knowledge is power!
First, the one bad thing about the book, was that getting through the time of Ryland's deafness was a bit slow. But after that, the story was very riveting. I had great sympathy for the parents, after dealing with the hard blow of Ryland's deafness, they then had to deal with Ryland's gender dysphoria.
It seems to me that we could get past this problem of children living with the wrong gender, if we would just have the pediatricians, during their first several interviews with this child to ask them are you a boy? Or are you a girl? That would seem to answer the question early on, before all of the problems happen with puberty. How this family handled it, after it was found out, was pretty good. However, once again, it was the male pride getting in the way of doing the right thing. If the husband had only have been more accepting of the gender difference in his child, then they would have saved Ryland several years of problems, and he could have taught his coworkers, in the firehouse, about the right thing. I think it is a very brave story, and these are obviously very caring parents, to do this for their child, and their care during the treatment for the deafness.
I would highly recommend this book to any parent. The lessons learned go beyond the gender dysphoria, and extend out to learning more of what the child needs. That's the lesson we need to learn from this, that we need to listen to our children better.
Say something about yourself!
I found my self crying a lot through out this book. Amazing Honest Loving parents. Beautiful Ryland with so much heart! I am thankful to have heard their story...not so much about transgender (which I am in full support of and care about deeply), but of the love and acceptance, stuggles and perseverance of this family. This incredible mothers words will never leave my heart.... Thank you!
This story was so vwry interesting! I can't wait to hear more about Ryland and family as they continue their journey. The only thing I will say as a critique is that Hilary's reading was a tiny bit monotonous. She didn't quite have the voixe inflection I would have like to tell such an emotional (at times) story. My propas out to her for reading it herself though as I can only imagine how hard that is.
Thank you for sharing your story. I watched the video when it started to go viral and I was so moved by Ryland and your family. He is such an amazing boy and we are all truly blessed to have him in this world. Thank you Ryland for embracing who you are and showing others what compassion and tolerance is.
Rarely does an author do well reading their own book...this is the exception! The narration is excellent. And the story of love is not only inspirational but life altering. I'm tempted to purchase a stack of this book to hand out to everyone I know!
That is was from the mother's view, as I am working on my own book about my child with much different circumstances then Ryland but I felt that I could relate to Hillary and the internal struggles she was feeling in this book.
I would have to say Hillary because I can relate to her on many levels. It's hard to be a mother of a "normal" child but when you have a "special" child it makes it even harder and when you make that decision to put your child solely and completely before yourself you are making the ultimate sacrifice that a parent can make and being a mother makes you more aware of exactly what you are doing.
Hillary, because I can relate to her.
I can't say that it was something I wanted to rush home from work to finish listening to but it was something that I looked forward to when I got to work each day.
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