Raising Ryland: Parents of Transgender Boy Become Advocates for Equality

by HRC Staff

HRC recently sat down with Hillary and Jeff Whittington, members of the council from California. They are the proud parents of Ryland, who is transgender, and Brynley.

The HRC Foundation's Parents for Transgender Equality Council (PTEC) is a group of 24 inspiring parents of transgender youth from across the country. The council serves as a coalition of some of the nation's leading parent-advocates working for equality and fairness for transgender people, with the intention of connecting, mobilizing, and amplifying many of the most powerful voices of love, inclusion, and support for transgender equality.

HRC recently sat down with Hillary and Jeff Whittington, members of the council from California. They are the proud parents of Ryland, who is transgender, and Brynley.

What inspired you to join HRC's Parents for Transgender Equality Council?

It is powerful to bring a variety of strong, diverse voices to one council with common goals and aspirations. We all share the same vision of progression and equality for all children. Together we are stronger and give one another the fuel to keep fighting for what we believe in.

What's been one highlight of your experience as a council member?

Coming together at the Time to THRIVE conference was very moving for us. It allowed us to connect face-to-face with parents in other parts of the country, and to hear their biggest concerns and challenges. It made us recognize how fortunate we were to have certain laws in place here in California and how important it is to keep fighting for the children who reside in other parts of the country who may not have the same privileges.

What part of HRC's work do you connect with the most?

HRC isn't afraid to call out the bigotry and hatred coming from the top and they don't back down to bullies or injustices. They find a way to build strength and bind together when so-called leaders strike out against our community. They fight for all marginalized communities -- not just the LGBTQ+ community.

What's one message you have for other parents of transgender children?

Acceptance and unconditional love are the best gifts you can give your children and it's up to us as parents to protect and stand up for them. They need our leadership and positive example to establish the confidence to live openly and authentically. Showing our kids what it is like to be strong and proud of who they are is giving them the ability to thrive.

Hillary Whittington is a UCSD graduate, Southern California native, and mother of two children--Ryland and Brynley. Hillary has seen her conservative Christian upbringing challenged with the discovery that her eldest child is transgender. She currently co-owns a residential real estate brokerage firm with her husband, and co-authored a book published by HarperCollins titled “Raising Ryland,” shifting to her new focus as a transgender ally and advocate.

Jeff Whittington is a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate who spent seven years working as a firefighter/paramedic for the City of San Diego before transitioning to the managing broker and co-owner of the couple's real estate company. Also raised in a hard-working, conservative family, he now works alongside his wife to help provide education regarding transgender issues.

To learn more about HRC Foundation's work with transgender youth and their families, visit our Children, Youth and Families program and our Parents for Transgender Equality Council page.