Moving video: Parents conclude their 5 y.o. girl is actually a boy

A really fascinating video that’s gone rather superviral on YouTube.

It’s about some parents who realized quite early on that their little girl, Ryland, was actually a little boy.

ryland-transgender-video

It’s a touching video, and really brave of the parents to do it. (Kids aren’t the only ones who “come out” in these situations).

A gay male friend of mine confided in me years ago that he always had these doubts that he was actually a girl. In my case, I don’t know that I “feel” any gender. I’m a guy, but unlike my sexual orientation, which I get (and which has rather obvious manifestations — I’m attracted to guys), I’m hard-pressed to define whether I feel like I was assigned the right or wrong gender at birth. It doesn’t feel like much of anything. And perhaps that’s what it’s like for people who aren’t trans.

I’d be curious if anyone else out there, who isn’t transgender, actually “feels” like a man or a woman. Maybe gender is one of those things you take for granted unless and until you’ve been assigned the wrong one.

The video is a bit long at 7 minutes, but you can zoom ahead from time to time and get the picture – the first few minutes are the most important.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Jackie Hill

    Much love to this family!!!

  • StraightForward

    What would I get if I tried to turn lemons into apples by painting them red? What would you say, my paint brush in hand, one by one, until all the yellow was no more. Perhaps you would laugh, ridicule me, call me ignorant. Maybe you should, after all, what I’m doing is futile, nonsense, and maybe you should be concerned, not just for me, but for a world filled with men and women just like me, who are doing the exact same thing; only it’s to their face, and their bodies. Are you concerned when a woman, devastated by her own true image, seeks to destroy it with plastic surgery…or starve it
    away? Are you concerned when the standard of beauty you accept, just so happens to look nothing like you? Are you concerned for those who envy how easy it is, and much more fun it is for certain groups, while they struggle to fit into their own group and receive the same validation? I hope you are one who is concerned. Just as if you had learned a loved one developed an auto-immune disorder in which their body attacked itself, self-rejection can have deadly manifestations.

    What did I get from painting lemons? A mess, but I learned that the lemons were never the problem, neither was the redness of the paint. Nevertheless, every day, not only do I see people painting lemons, then I see them try and sell them to me as what else…apples. Self-rejection is harmful, a deception in which ultimately, we are the ones who are being deceived. It’s far from funny, and devastating to be sure, when a child self-rejects, and is encouraged in their way of thinking. Can they turn her into a boy? Can I turn a lemon into an apple? Do you really want to know the truth?

    Just as God gave lemons and apples two distinctly different seeds, males and females were also given two distinctly different seeds, (sperm and egg). He gave us chromosomes, He also gave us unique physical attributes and characteristics, and no amount of surgery, disguise, or pretending, can change our biological gender, (or who we truly are for that matter). God also gave lemons and apples different roles, a slight difference, but a distinct one. The same goes for men and women. Why is that so hard to accept? It’s time to let go of the idea that you are some anomaly, that you are more different than you are the same, that people chose who and what will make them up as human beings, we cannot.

    “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?; I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” Isaiah 45:9 & 12.

    Please don’t mistake God’s work as something you or anyone else should be ashamed of. Poor who want to be rich, men who want to be women, women who want to be men, black who want to be white, white who want to be black, disabled who want to be non-disabled, old who want to be young, thank God for however He has made you. Is a happy deluded person a truly happy person? The Bible says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12. Happiness is having a relationship with Christ, knowing that as unique as you are, He made you that way, and he doesn’t mind your nose, your moles or your rolls. That only He can secure you, not just amongst a world filled with so many insecurities, but for eternity. Show some respect for the person He has made you to be, listen to His words and dump the world with their ridiculous standards and falsehoods. Do you really think they care about your eternal welfare? They’d rather you reject yourself and destroy your own image, because you’re made in His image. My heart goes out to you, and this family, I hope that you’ll never paint another lemon again, but most importantly I pray that you would receive a true understanding of the high value of your image, your person, and your life, in Christ Jesus, Amen.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    John, I must agree with you for I never felt anything but male. My father died when I was seven, so I grew up learning the feminine side of things. Because I live alone, I must housekeep while maintaining the outside. Still, I have never thought of myself as in the wrong gender. Therefore, like you, I don’t understand transgender, but I can accept it.
    I really think we have both genders in our makeup, with one dominating. I think my feminine side comes out first with my masculine side as backup. So I tolerate little provocations, but look out if they go on for long. I usually find myself justified if I should pull a mean streak.
    I try to fix the balance between both genders, for example I am learning about machinery and I can male bond, but I also can cook and clean after cutting the grass. In the old All in the Family series, I could be both Irene and Frank Lorenzo if I had to.

  • quax

    Thanks emjayay. Didn’t make very clear on why used the term ‘assigned’, I meant the gender that society assigned to me, there didn’t happen to be a conflict so I at least dodged that bullet. Having to sort this out while being a teenager, on or off the Autism spectrum, is always a tall order. Nature is pretty brutal tossing this into the lap of most immature minds (i.e. teenagers).

  • emjayay

    I appreciate your excellent, interesting, and amusing comment, and I know what you meant, but I think sex drive is always in line with your assigned gender. You are just straight (usually) or gay or who knows maybe even bi. It’s your perception (or idea of, or however you wanna put it) of your gender that may differ (rarely) from your actual body.

  • quax

    This is a profoundly sad story and I strongly emphasize with you and your son. My son is also on the spectrum, hopefully a bit less severe. He has the same tendencies to want to categorize everything black and white. I used to think the same way so I am constantly engaging him as much as possible to get him to consider that it is a mistake to try to press everything into this schema (also to show him that there is an outlet where absolute truth values have their place i.e. Math).

    The condition runs in our family. My mother and grandfather have never been diagnosed, but they show all the typical behavioral traits (and my sister who is a M.D. concurs).

    Gender shouldn’t be such a bid deal, and neither should be sex IMHO. I remember when my sex drive set in (fortunately for me in line with my assigned gender). Nevertheless, I just found it to be extremely irritating and essentially a violation of my free will, after all I didn’t willingly decide to find boobs arousing, some stupid hormones and the lizard part of my brain decided this for me. For a child on the Autism spectrum who has the hardest time to deal with even simple emotions and social cues it must be a nightmare when these sex drives set in the “wrong” way.

  • emjayay

    Just to kvetch, while the two songs on the video are perfectly fine on their own, they are counterproductive and manipulative as used. Along with the script style captions, slow stately pans up and down and crossfades and zooms in and out it’s all clearly supposed to be a Hallmark greeting card.

  • UncleBucky

    My female sibling tells me at times that I’m “too sensitive”. Yet, I’m a guy and never had the perception I was anything else. Hell, she married the most masculine things (twice) she could find. The first one cheated on her and the second one had/has — well, let’s just say — clothing issues. But no one ever did anything for me in the family, except to cry, act out ultra positive or ultra negative. This is the mind-set of conservatives, to be ambiguity averse and then not to deal too well when their ambiguity was right on their front driveway. So anyway. My first friend and I lasted longer than her cheatin’ macho male husband. Sadly, my relationship ended but I am now much happier with a sane individual.

    I was a representative for the HRC a couple of years in a row at the Chicago Be-All Conference and got a chance to visit with many people who had transitioned or were in the process of doing so. This was several years ago. But the one thing that I remember was that I noted that a lot of people had not started therapy until a lot of secondary sexual aspects had already set in. And so there was a lot of need for backtracking, alterations and so on. My first thought was, Gee, if they could have known earlier. If they could have been able to self-identify while their bodies were still without the obvious changes (I guess). I had a great education, experiences and conversations. Still didn’t make me wonder a single bit about my destination, but I understood a lot more of what many people have to go through. And since the repping was after the family member’s clothing issues had come beforehand, I was able to deal a lot better with listening and not making any responses.

    For this child, I am glad that he can arrive at a transition point earlier. It’s just my hope that his internal self-image matches the social/family image of him and that there won’t be a misunderstanding later.

    Maybe we are in a somewhat better society at the present. I hope so.

  • emjayay

    Politically incorrect of me I’m sure, but I suspect a certain number of people who feel they must get things cut off and take hormones to become a woman instead of the male they were born as are like you or me or John but raised in a very traditional sex roles/patriarchal culture and feel like they must be a woman if they aren’t a Man. This is only based mostly on one or two transgender m to f’s in that vogueing film some years ago, so is just sort of a guess.

    I always felt like a human with certain bits and body and interests and desires. Like a lot of gay men, I felt the interest in males when I was maybe seven, but had no context to put it in until much later. Today for a lot of kids in western cultures the story would of course be a lot different.

  • goulo

    Most people in general, not just Americans, seem to like things to be categorized, and become unsettled by non-standard non-conformers, alas…

  • Bookbinder

    Wonderful video. Maybe this really is the age of Aquarius…legal pot, a black president, gay marriage and kid centered parenting! John, like you, I always do a double take when people say they feel like a man or feel like a woman. I just feel like me. My parents were WAY ahead of their time back in the 50s, let me take up any interest I had whether boyish or girlish. When my Strong interest survey turned up mixed gender interests, the teacher shrugged and said it was normal because I was smarter. I wonder. After all these years, I am still just me. I can decorate a cake or repair a car, or paint, or do century bike rides, fix the plumbing or sew a hem. And I don’t feel girlish or boyish doing them. I like to top, but I like to be held too. I hope I live long enough to see a time when people aren’t forced into cubby holes in boxes..

  • bkmn

    Very sorry to hear of your loss. Unfortunately Americans like things to be categorized. Are you conservative or liberal, black or white, rich or poor, male or female. There are far too many people in this country that become very unsettled when confronted with someone that does not behave within defined norms.

    That is one thing that being in the LGBT community has encouraged me to open my mind and not shut someone out because they are different. My life has been made better by people that some would find unnerving.

  • Olivia

    My son had Asperger’s Syndrome and for him, every situation was black or white. There was no middle ground, no gray areas; everything was absolute. When he was an older teenager, he decided that he needed to become female. Unlike Ryland in the video, he didn’t have a strong feeling of being female throughout his childhood. The only time I can remember him saying anything about his gender feelings at all was one time when he was about 7, he said that he was jealous of girls because they could wear pretty things. I told him we could go look for prettier things for him and he declined and nothing was ever said again for years.
    When he was 17 he told me he was sure he was supposed to be a woman so we found a transgender program that gave him access to medical and psychological resources. I didn’t really believe that his gender was female just because he never had shown any sign of it growing up. I was sure that he was more neutral in gender but because he didn’t feel particularly masculine like he thought he should, he concluded that he must be feminine. He wasn’t particularly attracted to either men or women, his gender was neutral, but the flavor of Asperger’s he had didn’t allow anything in between. There was no middle, no neutral to anything, much less gender, in his head.

    The short story is that he committed suicide shortly after his 20th birthday. We learned afterward from his psychiatrist and psychologist that my guess was correct; he was completely neutral on the gender scale. Becoming female physically would not have solved any issues for him and I am sure that information contributed to his depression. After he became 18, we had no access to his medical records or treatment and he didn’t share any of it with us so we only were able to discuss it with the therapists after he died.

    We have so far to go on gender issues. Our culture over-sexualizes everything so that it becomes pornographic and too dirty to deal with in most people’s minds. From openly breastfeeding to small children’s gender identities being demonized; I don’t believe our civilization will last long enough to make the changes we need.

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