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

lindsay leigh bentley

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…

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

  1. zurvan says:

    Thank you. I enjoy civil conversations with unlike-minded people. I was thumbing through some of your other posts and this one caught my eye because it is an area I can claim some small expertise in. This wound up a little longer than I thought it would because this topic really interests me and I ramble sometimes, so sorry for that.
    The thing I find fascinating about gender and sexuality is that it’s one of those topics that seems straightforward on the surface and then gets way stranger and more complex the more you look into it. For example, people sometimes say that being transgender is having a male brain in a female body or vice versa, and for some it’s that straightforward but many don’t necessarily identify strongly with either gender. Others identify really strongly with both. Research on sexual orientation has typically shown that cisgendered men are more likely to be either straight or gay, whereas women are more likely to be both bisexual and to be more comfortable stepping out of whatever their gender preference is, and while trans people of either gender are more likely to be gay and bi, they don’t appear to have the same breakdown in preference as cisgendered people do. I could geek out all day about this because I think it’s interesting, and there are patterns to it that just don’t fit anyone’s political narrative because this goes way deeper than what we understand.
    So when I read stories like this about someone who was maybe a little gender fluid but ultimately cisgendered, I think, “Sure, that happens.” It also happens that some kids transition and are very happy with that. I’ve only heard of one story (and it was somewhat apocryphal) of someone who fully transitioned and regretted it. I have no doubt it’s possible, but I think the high opportunity cost makes it the kind of thing people (and their parents) are usually pretty certain about before they do it.
    But what I really dislike is when people take a story like this, which really highlights just how little we know and how complex the topic is, and use it to either state or imply that being transgendered doesn’t exist. The truth is just so much more interesting than the political story on either the left or the right. I at least give the left credit for tending to move farther past the “ick” or “weird” factor on this, but they aren’t perfect either. The “born that way” narrative is problematic, for instance, because while some are purely gay or straight, lots of people are somewhere in the middle and do have some choice about which gender they date. But unfortunately I think that many on the right let the fear, “what if my child regrets this?” or “What if this is happening because I did something wrong as a parent?” eclipse other risks, such as the problems people who transition male-to-female can have later in life if they don’t start hormones before puberty.
    In other words, it’s a big strange, beautiful universe, and when people use this kind of story to show that being transgendered doesn’t exist, I tend to think “all that proves is things are even more interesting than we thought.”

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