Next time someone says Trans Children don’t exist, just introduce them to amazing seven-year-old Ryland
Any child would likely be lucky to have Jeff and Hillary Whittington as parents. Ryland Whittington may be especially lucky. Ryland, the Whittingtons tell us through this amazing video they made, is a transgender boy. Now seven, his parents have documented his story with love and understanding and honesty. Jeff and Hillary tell how they brought Ryland into the world, learned their child needed hearing implants at the age of one, then discovered “Ryland had more to share with us.”
They spent a few years saying Ryland was just going through a phase, but soon realized it wasn’t. “When the family dies, I will cut my hair so I can be a boy” Ryland told them. “Why did God make me this way?,” he asked.
When the Whittingtons learned 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide, they decided to embrace Ryland as a boy rather than risk losing him. The Whittingtons made this beautiful and inspiring film for the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast. They posted it to YouTube on Tuesday. Three days later, it has gone viral, seen by more than 350,000 people already.
“We are overwhelmed with the kind, loving messages from many people,” the Whittingtons told The Huffington Post. “While this journey has been difficult at times, we have come to a place where our family is ready to come out and try to help other families facing similar situations. Our hope is that by sharing our story, we can begin to make the world a more loving place where people can be their authentic selves.”
PS: The video might not be available in Germany, if you want to see it anyway you could try a plugin like ProxTube for Firefox (let us know in the comments if you know an easier way, thanks!)
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EDMOND, OK—Following weeks of deliberation during which he carefully considered what sort of life he wanted for himself, 4-month-old baby Nathan Reynolds announced Wednesday that he had decided to be homosexual.
“I thought about it for a long time,” said Reynolds, who took into account both how his peers would view him and how he would be treated by society at large before determining his sexual orientation. “I weighed the pros and cons of homosexuality, and ultimately I decided that it was the right thing for me.”
The 16-week-old infant, who admitted that he was fully aware of the negative consequences associated with choosing to be attracted to members of the same sex, claimed that he was now prepared to go through life struggling with rejection, intolerance, and unprovoked hostility.
In addition, Reynolds confirmed that he opted for homosexuality despite very serious concerns about sustaining permanent psychological damage from a lack of acceptance from family members and fearing the stigma of publicly displaying affection for another man.
“Of course, I wasn’t certain of anything at first, but when I finally made up my mind to be gay, I was conscious of the fact that loved ones would repeatedly tell me that I’m not normal,” said the 4-month-old baby who made the decision before reaching the developmental milestone of head control. “Even though I’ll be subjected to ignorant homophobic attitudes and countless anti-gay slurs, the choice of homosexuality really works for me.”
Last year, a group of teens in Utah entered a home and held two people at gunpoint with the intent to commit robbery. The youngest of the boys, 16-year-old Cooper Van Huizen, provided his father’s guns to his cohorts but did not use them himself. In the end, the boys left with a cell phone, a bag of marijuana, and $10 cash. The victims were were terrified but physically unharmed.
Under a plea deals, two of the older boys, are serving 210 and 180 days in jail respectively after admitting guilt to second-degree felony counts. The two other teens are awaiting sentencing. In March, after his case was removed from juvenile and sent to adult court, Van Huizen took the same plea deal as the first two teens. The defence attorney told his parents they would petition to reduce the charges to misdemeanours after he completed his probation. They were also told it was very likely he would not have to serve any jail time as he was a first time offender.
On May 7, Van Huizen appeared before the same judge that sentenced his co-defendants. In a move that surprised the defence and prosecution, District Judge Ernie Jones deemed the plea deal illegal and “too soft” for his crimes. He sentenced the first time 16-year-old offender to two 1-15 years to Utah’s maximum security prison.
Unitah 1 is the highest security building in Utah’s state prison system. It houses 93 inmates, including gang members, sex offenders and those serving on death row. Inmates spend 23 hours a day in a solitary cell, with a single window allowing natural light. Reports from prisoners in Unitah 1 have included round the clock victimization, suicide attempts, rotten food and “every kind of psychological, social, and verbal dehumanization known to man.”
The inmates now include first time, nonviolent offender, 16-year-old Cooper Van Huizen.
Cooper’s father has said that this was his son’s first mistake, albeit a big one. Nevertheless, he feels that the sentence is too harsh and unfair. “He’s 16 years old,” said his father, Marc Van Huizen. “Some 16-years-olds are more mature than others, but Cooper is really soft and tender emotionally. He’s just a nice, sweet young boy, always has been. He’s not this rough-and-tough, wannabe street-wise little kid.”
In several decisions, the Supreme Court has maintained two key points regarding youth offenders: 1) teens and children are different than adults and 2) these differences must be considered during sentencing. In 2010, the court noted that, “As compared to adults, juveniles have a lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility. They are more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure and their characters are not as well formed.”
Yet kids as young as 12 are sentenced as adults regularly in the United States. The system is obviously broken when kids are sent to adult prisons, sometimes even without any charge yet the reoffending rate is more than three times as high as in countries like Norway where the legal system values rehabilitation over punishment.
Cooper admitted as much in a declaration to the court. “As I look back on what I did, I recognize that I was reckless in trying to fit in with and please new people I did not really know,” he said.
It is unclear why the judge imposed such a harsh and seemingly random sentence. In a declaration, his former attorney said that he recommended the plea deal believing there would be no prison time, though he realized there was always a chance. He also noted that the other defendants had received lighter sentences. Cooper’s parents have gotten him a new public defender, who has filed motions with the court to allow Cooper to withdraw his guilty plea.
While no one is saying that Cooper shouldn’t be punished for his participation, everyone seems to agree – including the department of Adult Probation and Parole – that sentencing a 16-year-old with no prior criminal record to spend up to 30 years in prison with sex offenders and murderers is cruel and unusual punishment.
Cooper has now spent more than two weeks in Unitah 1. He showers once a week and has learned to keep his window flap closed so he can’t hear the cries of the mentally ill inmates. He is one of 18 juveniles who have served time there since 2009. He hasn’t seen his parents since being taken to prison. There has been no hearing scheduled yet on his motions to the court.