Transcript for Parents Allow Transgender Child to Choose Gender
Thank you very much, Deborah. Coming up next on "The heat index" a stirring video shared by millions. A couple's decision to allow their young child born female to become male. ABC's Mara schiavocampo has more on their emotional journey. Reporter: It's one child's story that has many people talking. Last week California parents Jeff and Hillary wittington posted a video to youtube about their 6-year-old transgendered child Ryland. A seven-minute clip that has more than 3 million views and counting. The video explains how Ryland who was born a girl began insisting she was actually a boy as soon as she could speak. This is my sister brynl and I'm his brother, Ryland. Reporter: They say after consulting with professionals like gender therapist Darlene tando, they soon realized this was more than a tomboy phase. With phases they just kind of come and go. But with gender identity when a child is transgender tip exly nothing fades in or out. Reporter: The family made the controversial decision to hang their child's identity referring to Ryland only as he. Cutting his hair and sending a letter to family and friends about the change. There's huge benefits of doing this earlier in life. It's really just like they've been handed this gift everyone around them starts seeing them for who they are. Reporter: The video struck a chord. People.com article drawing more than 1500 comments in just three days. I commend these parents for doing what is right for their child writes one. But one reader commenting, I will never do this to my child. Another adding, I find it disturbing. Last month Ryland spoke about his transition at an event honoring the family. My name is Ryland Michael whitington. I am a transgender kid. I am the happiest I have never been in my whole life. Thank you to my parents. Reporter: The video encans with his words but for so many, the conversation is just beginning. For "Good morning America," Mara schiavocampo, ABC news, new York. And joining us now with ABC chief health and medical editor Richard Besser. A lot have strong feelings about this story and the big question I think a lot are asking this child is just 6 and you hear him use the term transgender. Is it too young for a child to know or to be able to distinguish gender. I mean that's the big question that everyone has. You know, the more we're learning about gender the more we're learning this is really hardwired. It's hardwired in the brain and from very early from the first couple years of life children will recognize gender and then start to identify with gender. So here you had a child who from the beginning she felt that she was not lined with her anatomic gender. Her parents brought this experts and felt this was transgendered and thought the earlier they did it the better. This is what people have been asking. How do you know the difference between, say, you're a tomboy or a boy that likes to play with dolls? How do you know it's not a phase you're going through? That's a big question. Being transgender is extremely rare. But going through phases of being a tomboy or being a boy who likes to play with dolls is so incredibly c'mon and that doesn't reflect whether you are going to align with the opposite anatomic gender. That has something to do maybe with your interests which may persist or may fade and change and it's very different. What's the connection between gender identity and sexual orientation. Yeah, this is a little tricky. So gender identification is whether you align with being male or female and transgender, whether that lines up with what you are anatomically. When it comes to whether you're gay that sexual orientation so are you attracted to someone romantically and sexually who is of the same gender or not? And you can be transgender straight, transgender bi, transgender gay? No necessary connection. No necessary connection there. What can parents do and what should they know if they have questions? This is really difficult for people to deal with, so, you know, first thing your child needs from you unconditional love, compassion, they need you there, not judging. Get some help on this. Talk to your child's pediatrician. If they have expertise or any experience in gender issues go with that. If not, ask them to refer you to someone who does. Because this is really, really tricky and really, really confusing. There are many children who will align with the opposite gender physically but it will be a phase but not all. Okay, got to talk about it. That's it. You got to talk about it.
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