Fox News aired a segment featuring a family with a transgender child on “America’s Newsroom” Friday.
The segment referred to 14-year-old Ryland Whittington, a biological girl who began transitioning at age 5, as a “typical Southern California teenager.” The family went viral in a 2014 YouTube video and the mother, Hillary, has written a book called “Raising Ryland.”
“We put our story out there so people can see that there’s another family out there that is going through what we’re going through or there’s another family who’s proud of who they are,” the 14-year-old said.
His mother, Hillary, said it was “painful” for Ryland to wear feminine clothes and be told she was a girl. She said she initially believed sex and gender were the same thing, but now believes they are separate.
“We thought that gender and sexuality were the same thing,” she said. “It took us awhile to figure out that those two things are different and that children actually do recognize their gender identity very young. Some of them, not all.”
“For me, it’s just a deep spiritual belief that we believe in God and He created us the way he wanted us. Well, then yes, He created Ryland just the way he is,” Hillary continued.
The family had been involved in support groups with other families where a father said being unsupportive caused his child to engage in self-harm. The segment cited the Trevor Project which said that 60% of kids identifying as transgender turn to self harm and 48% had engaged in harmful practices in the past year. Over 50% had contemplated suicide.
“I’d rather have a living son than a dead daughter,” Hillary continued. “I guarantee that if we had pushed back and done what a lot of parents do, I don’t think we would have either one of the kids you see before you here today.” (RELATED: ‘This Has Gone Too Far’: Transgender Psychologist Reconsiders Work With Trans Youths)
“Allowing him to live authentically and true to himself and be who he really feels like he is. When you get to know Ryland you really see just how proud and confident he is of himself,” the father said.
Fox host and narrator Bryan Llenas praised the family for their story and “extraordinary courage.”
“What extraordinary courage displayed by Ryland, his sister Brynley, father Jeff and mom Hillary. I want to thank the Whittington family for speaking to us. It’s not easy, particularly at a time when transgender issues have been politicized. People are afraid of what they do not understand, Dana [Perino]. This family hopes their story will lead to more understanding, more acceptance and ultimately, more love,” Llenas said.
Doctors have prescribed puberty blockers to children suffering from gender dysphoria, which has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), nor is there enough research to conclude the long term negative effects of injecting hormones into children to pause puberty, PBS reported. Testosterone and estrogen, which are blocked by the medications, contribute to a child’s neurological and bone development.
A March 2021 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence comprehensive review found no evidence that hormone and puberty blockers are helpful. Stanford University published a study in January 2022 funded by pharmaceutical giants Arbor and Pfizer who produce those treatments.
Alabama passed legislation banning cross-sex hormones, puberty blockers and sex change operations for minors in early April. Texas announced a plan to investigate households with children undergoing these treatments for possible child abuse.