I am Ryland – the story of a male-identifying little girl who didn’t transition

I have been shying away from highly controversial topics on this blog recently because I just couldn’t take the drama that naturally associates with it.  But I keep hearing the story of Ryland, a child who was born a female, whose parents have transitioned her to male at 5 years old.  You can see the full story HERE, but in short, because their daughter identified herself as a boy, and liked “boy” things as opposed to “girl” things, they cut off her hair, bought her “boy” clothes, and have begun telling her, and others, that she is a boy.

I have no degree in early childhood development, nor have I studied psychology.  I didn’t even graduate from College.

I am also not here to pass judgement on Ryland’s parents.  I believe that they are doing what they believe to be the most loving thing for their child.  I’m simply sharing my story because I see so much of my 5-year-old self in this child.

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I was born the second daughter to two loving, amazing, supportive parents.  They would go on to have 2 more daughters. The four of us couldn’t be more different, even down to our hair and eye color.  Our parents embraced our differences and allowed us to grow as individuals, not concerned with the social “norms” for girls.  I often joke that I was the boy my dad never had.  My dad is a free spirit, 100% unconcerned with what people think of him, and he thought nothing of “out of the box” behavior.  I function more as a firstborn than a second born (however, this does not make me the firstborn, amiright?)

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Anyhow, even as a baby I seemed to prefer “boy” things.  I was rough, tough, and daring.  My parents had to cut my curly hair short because I would twist it into knots and refused to let my parents brush it.  I once managed to make my way onto the second story roof, and was gleefully running around, as my parents had simultaneous panic-attacks.  My toys of choice were sticks, sling-shots, bows & arrows, guns, mud, motorcycles, and monsters.  When my sister and I picked out “My LIttle Ponies” I chose a blue one, and promptly cut all of that lustrous long hair off as short as possible.  My barbie also got the chop.

I loved going on hunting trips with my dad and thought it was amazing when he taught me to pop the head off a dove. (PETA, please, no…just.  No.)

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I wanted to be a boy.  Desperately wanted to be a boy.  I thought boys had more fun.  I felt like a boy in the way that our society views genders.  I liked blue and green more than pink and purple.  I remember sitting up as high as I could climb in our huge mulberry tree, bow & arrow in hand, trying to kiss my elbow (a neighbor lady had told me that if I could accomplish this, that I would turn into a boy, which was what I wanted in that moment, as a child, more than anything.)

Thankfully, my parents didn’t adhere to the archaic stereotypes that “boys like blue” and “girls like pink;”  that “boys play with dinosaurs, and girls play with dolls.”  Had they told me that liking these things made me a boy, I would have concluded that I was a boy.

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They just let me be me.  They let me be a girl who wore jeans more often than skirts.  They let me play with slingshots rather than princess wands.  They didn’t conclude that I was gay, or transgender. They didn’t put me in a box that would shape my future, at the expense of my own free will.

My best friends growing up, until around the age of 14, were boys.  Sure, I had girl friends, but my best friends, the ones I identified with most, were boys.  Every evening after dinner I would go outside and play football with my neighbor friend, Tom.  My very best friend in the world was a boy named Robin.  His wife is a friend of mine to this day.  My friend Andrew and I would make swords out of plywood and burn our names in them with soldering irons.  We made elaborate models of “trampoline worlds” because, bouncing around is waaaay better than walking, right? I wished so badly that I could play baseball on my friend Jaime’s team with him.

 

At Thanksgiving we would play “cowboys & indians” with my cousins and I was always, always, the wild Indian. Never the prairie maiden who had been captured….boooooring.

I even remember one Christmas, my sister and I were given porcelain figurine music boxes from my parents.  Her’s was of a girl with a lamb, mine a shepherd boy with a donkey.  They did this not because they considered me a boy, but because they knew I would like that one more.  I thought shepherd boys with donkeys were a heck of a lot more fun than a pretty blonde girl with a lamb.  Lambs are dumb.  Donkeys are crazy, wild, and fun!  My parents were just fine with me identifying more with the dirty, tough shepherd.

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I hestitate to even add, this but I feel it is so important:  I even had an experience, around age 7, where a friend (girl) of mine experimented together during a sleepover. Looking back, I believe she had been molested and was acting out what had been done to her.  This doesn’t make me transgender.  It doesn’t make me a lesbian.  It made me a child growing up in a broken world.

In this day and age, I probably could have been labled as transgender.  They would cut my hair off short (because, all boys have short hair, right?) I would be given “boy” clothes to wear, blue walls in my room rather than pink, and be told to pretend to have a penis, at least until I could have one surgically added. Had this happened, I can not even imagine how traumatic puberty would have been for me.

Fast forward to age 14/15 (late bloomer here) and I finally started going through puberty.  I had never really thought of the opposite sex in a sexual manner before.  My attraction was immediately, and is to this day, towards men.  At the risk of going all Shania on you,  I “feel” like a woman.  Had my parents decided, at age 5, that I was a boy, I can not imagine the confusion that I would have experienced during my teen years.

I still love some stereotypical “male” things.  Football remains my absolute favorite sport to watch.  I love fixing things around the house, and honestly, am often better at it than my husband.  I prefer to go barefoot and struggle to remember to wash my hair and pluck my eyebrows.  I enjoy doing mechanical things, and am not afraid to stand my own against jerky sub-contractors.  I hate clothes shopping. I like having muscles.  I love to exercise, and enjoy feeling really strong.  I am thankful that I feel confident to manage our home on my own while my husband travels.  I prefer Bourbon over a Cosmopolitan.

But I also love being a woman.  I love to feel beautiful, especially when I have an event with my husband.  I love putting on an apron and creating elaborate meals for friends and family.  I love nursing my babies.  I looooove going to the spa.

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My husband is amazing at design and is the decorator/designer for our home.  He does most of the clothes shopping for both of us, and has no interest in learning how to change the oil in our car.  He is creative and artistic.  But he also loves to go hunting and fishing and has to handle any dead little animal that we find on our property because I can’t handle that stuff.  

These things don’t make us gay or transgender, they make us unique human beings.  

Because my parents never forced me to, I never considered if some of the things that I enjoyed were “boy” things or “girl” things,  I was just me.  When we begin to tell boys that they must act “this” way, and that girls should act “that” way, and that if they don’t, they are transgender;  we put children in these tiny boxes that create confusion, frustration, and sometimes, lifelong psychological and emotional damage.

Our oldest son had very long, wavy blond hair for the first 3 years of his life until he requested to have a haircut like his grandpa.  People sometimes commented that they thought he was a girl, but I was often confused for a boy as a child so I didn’t worry about it.  He once came to me and asked if pink was a girl color, because someone had told him that it was, and he liked pink.  “No.  I responded.  Pink is just a color.”  Fully satisfied, it remained his favorite color for the rest of that week, at which point he moved on to orange, or green or purple or something else.  I want my children to be fully accepted for their interests, without making those interests define the core of who they are.  Henry can like pink just as much as I can like tearing up concrete without it defining our gender.

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It grieves me to think of what Ryland’s parents may be robbing her of by choosing a gender for her at such a young age.  I hope that, if/when she decides that she is a woman, that they will support her in this.  That they won’t force her into their agenda to save face.

I am writing this to offer another perspective.  Because I believe in freedom.  I believe that people should be free to have interests that don’t fit the social norm.  That children should be allowed to be children.  With all of their silly, fantastical play.  They should be allowed to believe that they are a dog, a Superhero, a Mommy, or a rock.

I am so thankful that my parents gave me the freedom to act more boyish than my sisters.  I am thankful that they didn’t freak out, or make any life-altering decisions for me.  I am so thankful that, for a season of my life, I was allowed to act more like a stereotpyical boy than a girl.  I am also thankful that I was allowed to become more feminine later in life, when it felt natural to do so.

I hope that Ryland’s parents will offer her this same freedom.

live well. be well.

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***Comment Policy: Please be free to express your opinion here in a respectful way.  I believe in freedom of speech, but I will not allow my blog to be a place of hate or abuse.  Please keep your comments free of meanness or threats, as those will be discarded and your email blocked. Because of the volume of comments, I am no longer able to respond to most, however, I do read each one.  Thank you so much***

 

1,312 thoughts on “I am Ryland – the story of a male-identifying little girl who didn’t transition

  1. Both articles made me think. Both have interesting points. However I think the right way was done with Lindsay. Her parents didn’t make a big deal about it, and didn’t obsess about the issue. They let her develop naturally. Now Ryland has the media involved and will forever have people questioning the parents choices, and the child’s ability to reason. I remember a time where sexuality/gender wasn’t an issue, nor was it “Programmed” into children. I never knew what a transgendered individual was, nor did I care to know… I cared about if they liked to climb a tree or ride a bike. Where is that today? Where is the innocence? I had to explain to my third grade son why a man would leave a mommy and marry a daddy… Why should my son know about these things? Adult stuff should be kept adult! Let them be kids. I strongly agree that kids should not be choosing their Gender Preference. I wanted to be a Boy for awhile as a child, because they could stand up to pee and not get their hand wet when they used the TP! I am all girl to this day! Love Pink, Yellow, and Green… I think kids should be kids… let the complicated things be kept in private with the parents… Like Mary in the Bible… “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19 Let the Grown ups be the Parents and stop letting the child think it knows best for itself! The more we make big deals over things the more it becomes a big deal to the child. If we say “Damn it!” in a loud emphatic voice… The child is going to repeat it, because it was said with importance! At 3-5 years old we should not make big deals about if a child refers to themselves as a boy or girl! We should be making big deals out of them learning their letters, shapes, numbers, remembering to wipe and flush! We are so hyper-sexed that we have forgotten the important things! Fun, Family, and living! Everything will work itself out in the end!

  2. Great Article! I totally agree. I grew up a total tomboy: playing with GI Joes, He-Man, Dinosaurs.. blue remains my favorite color. I had no interest in keeping my hair tidy or clothes clean. All of my friends were boys,… (it wasn’t until I turned 25 that I started having real female friends!) I remember at age 5 or 6, that I even insisted that my mom allow me to take my shirt off while playing in the backyard, because “daddy got to do it.”

    However, I’m very glad that I wasn’t born to parents eager to prove that they were “open minded” and rush me to a podium so that I might become a spokesperson for the transgendered community. … I like dudes. Always have. I liked GI Joes, but eventually I discovered that I also LOVE ballgowns. And, again, dudes.

  3. I’m glad you told your story. And I’m sure there are many like you – tomboys. I think your advice about waiting until an older age to transition is very good advice and I believe nothing hormone-wise is done until a child is older – puberty and years after, it can still be done. Its a real tough one. I’ve heard that even when transgenders fully transition later in life, many do not reach the level of happiness they were so desperately seeking.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I felt the same way when I read the story of that little transgender child. The thing is I’m not aposed to transgenders. I’ve know people who are and those that I’ve know where nice people who didn’t deserve to be treated cruely. I’m all for supporting transgender movements, however, I don’t think a five year old possess the ability to make this chose. A five year old can say I want a ball instead of a barbie and I want my hair short but changing gender is a completely different thing. My youngest daughter was also called “daddy’s boy” because I had four girls and she was the youngest. Right from the start she loved balls, cars, trucks, horses and sports. She hated dresses, wore her hair short and played with the boys. Like your mother, I never told her that those things were for boys and girls like pink and princess things. I let my children be who they are. When my daughter went through puberty she changed. Suddenly my little girl loved all things sparkly. She has her nails done, loves dress, long hair, and anything pretty. She is still active and loves sports and horses but she is all woman. She also says she loves being a girl and wouldn’t trade that for anything. My point is let your child be who they are and watch them become who they want to be.

    • What people often don’t understand is that there is a difference between wanting to be a boy and do ‘boy things’ and insisting through and through that you ARE a boy. I am transgender and it is a very different feeling than ‘being a tomboy’. It’s hard to understand until you have felt it yourself, which obviously you didn’t, but they aren’t the same thing. Being transgender isn’t ‘wanting to do boy things’ it often means developing life-altering depression because of your inability to be recognized as who you are.

      I think both sets of parents have done the right thing. You clearly weren’t/aren’t transgender, and Ryland is, so the situations were handled appropriately. It isn’t the parent’s choice, they are simply letting their child be who they are. No one wants to see their child develop depression, self hatred, etc.

  5. Wow! I stumbled on your post via facebook, where a friend of mine shared it. Excellent post, well written. I loved this! I grew up in a neighborhood of boys, we climbed trees, we played army. We had a fort in our backyard. My sisters and I played either school, house, and if the boys were involved it was our fort! When I married and had two daughters, they got dolls for Christmas and trucks. My youngest used to sleep with her truck and rocks under her pillow…. I don’t believe in defining a child by their preference for play, it changes like the wind sometimes. All of our daughters Barbie dolls had chopped hair and they used to draw scars on her. Again, excellent post. DAF

  6. When I was a young child, I thought I was a boy and did boy things because I thought they were more fun. If someone offered me a surgery to change into a boy I would have wanted it. Fast forward to puberty an d I became all girl and loved it. Glad my parents just let me be me and didn’t obsess over it. They did the right thing.

  7. VERY well stated! Your childhood sounds similar to mine…I desperately wanted to be a boy too! As you said, they had more fun! At least in my eyes, because I too liked “boy” activities much better than “girl” activities. I continue to be amazed by people who allow CHILDREN to make such life affecting decisions. Have we forgotten they are children, not just short adults?

    • What people often don’t understand is that there is a difference between wanting to be a boy and do ‘boy things’ and insisting through and through that you ARE a boy. I am transgender and it is a very different feeling than ‘being a tomboy’. It’s hard to understand until you have felt it yourself, which obviously you didn’t, but they aren’t the same thing. Being transgender isn’t ‘wanting to do boy things’ it often means developing life-altering depression because of your inability to be recognized as who you are.

      I think both sets of parents have done the right thing. You clearly weren’t/aren’t transgender, and Ryland is, so the situations were handled appropriately. It isn’t the parent’s choice, they are simply letting their child be who they are. No one wants to see their child develop depression, self hatred, etc.

  8. While your post is compelling and I agree fully that your parents gave you the priceless gift of allowing your to be you (as we hope all parents will do for their children), your story seems quite different from ryland’s.

    You talk about all the things you liked and did – your interests- as a child, not about who you thought you actually were. It sounds as though you liked stereotypical boy things, but always knew you were a girl who preferred to hang with the boys and do “boy things.” Even when you say you felt like a boy, it seems this goes back to your “stereotypical “boy interests,” rather than actually identifying as being male.

    Based of the video rylands parents made, it seems to me that Ryland actually thought/ thinks of herself (I guess I should say himself) as a boy, not because of the things he prefers, but because he identifies, at his core, as being male. Your interests and experiences seem more superficial.

    I do share your hope that rylands parents will be open to ryland ultimately being female if that is what ryland wants, but I do think you may have too quickly overlooked some potentially vast differences between your and ryland’s stories.

    Food for thought, at least. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

    • Well said. The two stories are not the same at all – not even similar. Being a tom-boy and liking boy things does not make one transgender. Just because Lindsay is not transgender, doesn’t mean that other kids aren’t either.

    • You are very right. Ryland IS a boy, he doesn’t ‘want to do boy things’, etc. His identity is deeper than that, which is what separates being a tomboy from being transgender.

    • That is what I read in the story as well. The author talks about “liking boy things” (genderized toys and activities) and preferring boy-ish styles (genderized clothing) but not about “feeling like a boy”.

      The lack of psychology or psychiatry that the author disclaims at the beginning is telling. No one in the transgender world recommends telling a tomboy that they are a boy; nor telling a girly boy that they are a girl. The Benjamin scale is used to assist professional doctors in making the diagnosis, at which point the parents have a decision to make: take the doctor’s recommendation or don’t. Hormone treatment and surgery aren’t considered at that age immediately (or at any age) but some puberty delaying drugs might be used to give the kid more time to decide. But the key is that any transgender person must live as the other gender for a year or more before even hormone treatment; that means living as that gender, using those pronouns, and using that bathroom. The author seems like she would have hesitated at that, while someone who is transgender may shy away at first from fear but welcome the change. Then drugs are an option, and eventually the surgeries that the person chooses.

      Only the author can tell us whether she actually identified as male at that age; but without a doctor’s diagnosis or even some psychologist’s input at that age, all we have are the author’s recollections and views that have been tinted with the years that have gone past (and this isn’t as minor as one would first assume).

      She even goes so far as to say that she isn’t “here to pass judgement on Ryland’s parents” but ends with “I hope that Ryland’s parents will offer her this same freedom.” which is a judgemental statement even if it is intended as a passing remark. There is the supposition that Ryland’s parents haven’t offered that, that maybe if they did then Ryland would have the “freedom” to grow up as the author did. It is, blatantly, a judgement about transgendered individuals who transition at a young age.

      I say this as an intersexed child who was assigned a gender at a young age “for my own good” (not really trans-, but certainly not cisgendered): “Please, dear author, learn a little bit more about what transgendered individuals go through. Put a bit more research into it. It may not seem like your story is ‘passing judgement’ on people, but it is. And even to me, it is insulting of the trauma that I went through at that age. You might mean well, but it doesn’t show in this article. All I see is the privilege of someone who is cisgendered (gender straight) passing judgement on the family of ,and the individual, someone who is not so.”

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  10. Thanks for sharing your story Lindsay. I had a similar childhood. I was the girl always playing with the boys. War, mud fights, baseball, tackle. I have an older sister who got dolls and dresses, while I asked for guns and boys jeans. I remember asking my mom at about 5 if I could be a boy. My mom explained that it didn’t work that way. She said I could still hang out with the boys and wear boy clothes after school, but I couldn’t just change to a boy. I spent my childhood being referred to as a “tomboy”, and I loved that label. I didn’t go into a depression, or even ever bring it up again. Then, like you, I hit puberty and embraced being a girl!
    There is a big difference between what our childhood experience was and what these parents have gone through with their kids.
    The parents of Ryland and AJ did not make this change on a whim. They consulted doctors and psychologists and watched their kids become unhappy and depressed. These kids are lucky to have such loving supportive parents who were brave enough to take care of their children regardless of the judgement from outsiders. Unfortunately, many people have very limited views of human gender identity and sexuality. It takes a lot of courage to share their stories. I applaud them.

      • I do know that there is a difference. I’m saying that we need to be careful in labeling a child as transgendered because I can see how this trend could mis-label children who are actually just tomboys. I never meant to imply that I didn’t understand the difference between the two.

      • If you know the difference, then you need to revise your essay to reflect as much. As is, your blog does not give the slightest hint that you realize the differences between yourself and Ryland. You could start with your title. You are not Ryland. You are not similar to Ryland. You were a tomboy. Ryland is a boy.

      • And there is the rub. Would it not be dreadful, says the cis woman, if a single cis child were to be transitioned in any way? Therefore we must make trans children go through hell to PROVE BEYOND ANY POSSIBLE DOUBT that they are trans, just in case a cis child were at all confused!! The suffering of the trans child does not matter. That is what I am hearing, here.

        I feel we can be more balanced. It is highly unlikely a cis child will even have puberty delayed by drugs, because the standard to get to that is so high. There is no risk whatsoever to a cis child, as we are now. Pardon me for caring about trans children.

    • Cheryl, I have not read your comment before posting mine. I think that premature assumptions are very risky to the child. But, if Ryland’s parents really went through all of this process before anything else, I have to admit that I agree with you too. This is a very delicate subject in a child’s life..

    • Very well said Cheryl! Thank you for understanding the difference between being a tomboy and being transgender. I appreciate you sharing your voice.

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  12. I’ve been following the comments here for a few days, and I’m baffled by how many people (Lindsay included) are conflating “having interests that don’t align with socially constructed gender norms” with “gender dysphoria.”

    That’s tantamount to calling oneself Spanish after eating at Taco Bell.

    • I was actually making the opposite point. Ryland’s parents used their child’s interest as part of their reasoning for transitioning her to a boy. That is why I included those examples in my post.

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  14. Alah! Finally some article full of good sense, good will and sane thoughts. I wish more of this perspective could be spread throughout this world and help with this crazy wave of “gay this” and “gay that”. It’s ok if you are gay, lesbian, trans, or whatever. But it is equally ok if you are not. And if you are a girl that likes boys or a boy that likes girls, that doesn’t disqualify you from being “open minded” or “modern” or whatever. So please, stop supporting gay movement here and there just to show how “awesome” you are. Because if you are gay, you are gay and its ok. Let’s not make a fuss about it and just let it be. That’s it. Simple. No show-offs or self pride world around. Let’s just be us. Be what you want and respect your fellow men. Have principles, character and honor your conduct. No one has the right to impose their thoughts or beliefs onto others.
    Thank you for sharing your story and stepping up to common sense!

    • Wanting to be a boy when you are a girl so young, is a sign of admiration for the opposite sex. It is a very premature time to believe this to be otherwise. As this can be very harmful to the overall emotional, social and psychological aspects of that child.

  15. Thank you for sharing this, Lindsay! I love your down to earth approach. I very rarely read blogs or long stories/explanations about people I don’t know. But reading yours has been very refreshing! You are also a good writer!

  16. I’m glad for anyone that is happy and well adjusted, but this article and the mentality therein is anything but accepting and liberated. This is entirely sexist. Do you know how many men I have known that cried the first time their parent had them go hunting? How many men swallowed that pill and hated every minute of it? It is not manly to shoot the head off a bird, nor is it feminine to put on an apron and cook. Ridiculous.

  17. Melissa’s comment is exactly what I was about to write myself. I could not agree more with her post. But I would like to add that, as a mom of an 18 year old transgender child, that being transgender has nothing to do with outward hobbies, clothing choices, favorite colors or toys. It has to do with what the person feels like on the inside. The gender that they identify with also has absolutely nothing to do with sexual preference at all. My son (who was born female) played with Barbie dolls, never asked to wear “boy” clothes, rarely played sports and does not even watch them on television. He does nothing that a stereotypical male would. And he feels no pressure to either – because that is not what defines him. Before my child, I did not know what transgender meant. I now do and I am desperately trying to educate others in order to decrease the pain and increase the understanding that these people and their loved ones experience. A common theme is depression, withdrawal and extreme discomfort with the anatomy that they have been assigned. It has nothing to do with “boy” or “girl” colors or athleticism or the genders of their best friends (meaning that if he desired to be a boy, he would hang out with boys). My son’s best friend is a girl. This is just a very misunderstood topic. Thank you for your post and the opportunity that you have given me to reply. God Bless.

  18. I really enjoyed your testimonie and liked your message. I liked mostly traditional boy things when I was a child and couldnt understand why I was a girl sometimes, till I went through puberty at 15 and then life started to make more sense…lol… I’m glad my parents just left me be me to like yours. Have an awsome day, Thanks Mrs. Pines :)

  19. I think you fundamentally misunderstand gender. It isn’t about what you like, how you look, and other such superficial traits. That’s gender presentation. Gender is how your mind identifies yourself along (or, sometimes, outside of) a gender spectrum. When one’s gender differs from one’s sex, gender dysphoria occurs. It’s serious business. I’ve had to support my wife through it, and shame on anyone who thinks it’s made up. Kids can suffer this just as easily as adults can.

    Yeah, super extreme parents could mistake abnormal gender presentation for being trans gendered…but experts aren’t going to be on board with that (it is seriously hard to get treatment as someone who’s trans gendered) and neither are most kids going to go along with it. You may say you would have taken a surgery to become a boy, but that’s because you’ve never suffered dysphoria — the littlest transition for you, as a cis gendered (non trans) person, would give you dysphoria, and you’d be like “Nope, not havin’ it.”

  20. Thanks for your perspective! I too have a hard time seeing a young child as anything other than a happy breeze, blowing all over the place — I told my parents I wanted to change my name sometimes, or loved a food one day and three years later couldn’t stomach it. Your point of view and story are very valuable and interesting and add a lot to the discussion!

  21. Thank you so, so much for sharing your memories. Your story sounds so much like what my little girl is going through. She is a Jedi/ superhero/ baseball player. Just DON’T call her cute. She sounds a bit like you.

    She has asked why God didn’t make her a boy. I don’t really think she understands gender roles. My wife gets a little freaked out when our daughter says such things. But I tell my daughter that God made her as she is. It’s up to her to be the person she wants to be. Just be the best at it!

    Sighhhh. We’ll see how that goes.

    Anyway, thanks again. All the best to you and your family.

  22. I was also a tomboy, and my parents were cool with it. There is a difference, though. These transgendered children don’t just prefer activities of the opposite sex, they feel wrong in their bodies. They get can seriously depressed when not allowed to express themselves. Not just little kid tantrums or sadness, but to the point of self harm and even suicide.

    I never felt wrong in my body. I never wanted a penis, I just wanted to do not wear dresses and not have long hair. I wanted to play with Legos and Gi-Joes, not dolls and Barbies. I wanted to help my Dad in the yard and not clean the house with my mom. That’s the difference. These kids aren’t tomboys, or “sissies”. It goes much much deeper.

  23. I love the fact that you didn’t change who you were just to fit the social norm, and your parents absolutely did the right thing with you by letting you be who you were. But I think there is a large misconception when it comes to what it means to be transgender. You said it yourself that you wanted to be a boy because you liked boy things, and thats normal because you wanted to fit in with those that liked to do what you wanted to do. But transgender children and adults, they ARE the opposite sex on the inside. They don’t want to be a different sex because they already are on in the inside. What they want is their outside to match their inside. So your absolutely right, your parents should never have tried to change you and label you transgender because your not. But Ryland may very well be. By allowing him to become the gender he was, his parents gave him freedom, they didn’t force him into anything. I think we need to change the misconceptions that many have on what it means to be transgender and support them and their families, not question them. No one knows truly what they are going through or how their child feels but them.

  24. I just wanted to point out that I don’t believe at all that Rylands parents made her wear boys clothes and do boys things- and also I with many of these kids when they reach puberty they are not attracted to the opposite sex as you were. I was a tomboy like you who grew up to be bi-sexual. I like men and womens clothes but am to small to wear mens clothes. I drove a semi and built transmissions for Ford and then would go out in a dress. I am almost 60 now and have not acted on my female attraction for over 20 years but that doesn’t mean the attraction went away, I just have a different like and don’t need the hassle these encounters would cause. We are all different and should allow our children to be. Allow is the key word- not make them be or stop them from being.

  25. Many people (including me) want to know if my son is transgender. As of today, he has decided he is a boy who likes girl things and so we choose to use the term gender non-conforming. Will he decide in the future to transition to female? Maybe..we don’t know. We are learning that everyone decides this at different ages and that they transition in different ways. Therefore no transitions are the same. We are here to love, support, and guide him as best we can along his journey. We feel immensely grateful to have so many loving people around us who do the same.

    I was recently forwarded your blog post. I appreciate hearing your personal account of being “a girl that likes boy things” but I feel strongly that you are confusing two words— gender non-conforming and transgender. There are many gender non-conforming individuals that are not transgender. You state in your title that you are Ryland (a 6 year old transgender boy) but then go on to describe your choice to remain a female. This difference led me to believe that you are not the same as Ryland as you decided not to transition. You are therefore cisgender “which means not transgender. In some ways, cisgender is to trans as straight is to gay. We used to say “not transgender” as if “not transgender” was the norm and transgender was where the trouble came in.” -Jennifer Finney Boylan (professor of English at Colby College and the author of several books) “Gender nonconforming doesn’t mean that a person is transgender, so there’s a distinction there, but it’s very encompassing in terms of any child with any gender difference, whether that’s in their identity or in their expression.” -Aidan Key (founder of the family education and support organization Gender Diversity and co-founder of Seattle’s Transgender Film Festival)

    My second issue with this post is that you state that you are not here to pass judgement on Ryland’s parents but then you write… ”It grieves me to think of what Ryland’s parents may be robbing her of by choosing a gender for her at such a young age. I hope that, if/when she decides that she is a woman, that they will support her in this. That they won’t force her into their agenda to save face.” You make their choice sound like a selfish one when rather I see it as a selfless one. I read the story of Ryland and understood that he was extremely unhappy as a girl. Sounds like you just had a few moments of wishing you were a boy. Who doesn’t have days when they wish they were someone else? Not sure why you feel the need to “grieve” their choice in order to tell your story?

  26. I’m not even sure I ever even considered what gender I was at such a young age. I was a bookish child. I didn’t enjoy dolls or dresses much, but I didn’t gravitate toward sports or mud either. I’m now the proud mother of the sweetest and most rambunctious 5 year old little boy, who after my recent miscarriage, informed his aunt (my sis-in-law) that he was holding a new baby in his belly until it could go to mine. She explained to him that only girls could have babies, as we had before, but he was adamant. This is his way of protecting his mommy from being sad, and I couldn’t love him more for it. He knows he’s a boy, he just doesn’t care what that means. :-)

  27. Thank you for the story. I do think this is missing a point though – having met a couple of transgender people, what they usually say is that they are just someone else on the inside. It’s really not about liking blue or pink, the difference goes a lot deeper – and no amount of freedom allowed from the parents side can change this. They just dramatically feel like a different person, like they were using a wrong body for living. Not so much an intellectual process, as a gut feeling, that something is very wrong, and you are not a boy or a girl, as everyone would like to think.

  28. What people often don’t understand is that there is a difference between wanting to be a boy and do ‘boy things’ and insisting through and through that you ARE a boy. I am transgender and it is a very different feeling than ‘being a tomboy’. It’s hard to understand until you have felt it yourself, which obviously you didn’t, but they aren’t the same thing. Being transgender isn’t ‘wanting to do boy things’ it often means developing life-altering depression because of your inability to be recognized as who you are.

    I think both sets of parents have done the right thing. You clearly weren’t/aren’t transgender, and Ryland is, so the situations were handled appropriately. It isn’t the parent’s choice, they are simply letting their child be who they are. No one wants to see their child develop depression, self hatred, etc.

  29. Yes, yes, Yes!! Lindsay’s childhood was very much like mine! I desperately wanted to be a boy. I HATED being a girl! But then I hit puberty and discovered boys!! I never again wanted to be a boy.

  30. Thank you for sharing your story…though I think my views are much different than yours.

    Being a tomboy and being transgendered are two different things. People aren’t transgender because of games they like to play or colors they like. They are transgendered because of how their brain works and because no matter how much people may try to make them the gender they were born, they just can identify with it. I have always been a tomboy, I still am…but never did I feel like I was in the wrong body. I have friends who are transgendered and knowing the torture and pain they went through everyday seeing themselves as a gender they didn’t feel like they were is heartbreaking. You have never experienced that nor have I. So saying just let them be who they are…that’s what these parents are doing, so they don’t risk losing their child completely.

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