IN THEIR OWN WORDS: How one family's young daughter became their young son (VIDEO)

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SAN DIEGO, Calif – A California family has gone public with the very personal story of how their young daughter became their son.

A video posted by the Whittington family of San Diego late last week has been seen by more than 3.5-million people.

In the 7 minute video, Jeff and Hillary Whittington share the birth of their daughter Ryland in 2007.

In the video the family says after Ryland learned to talk she began telling her parents she didn’t want to be a girl and that she felt she was a boy.

Initially believing it was a phase, the family struggled with how to respond.  Jeff and Hillary said it was easier to believe Ryland was a 'tomboy.'

But then Ryland began saying things that scared her parents.

“When the family dies, I will cut my hair so I can be a boy,” she said at one point.

In tears at another point Ryland asked, “Why did God make me like this?”

After seeking expert opinions across the spectrum of medical and mental health professionals, the Whittingtons decided at the age of 5 to allow their daughter to live as a boy.

“We all came to the same conclusion, Ryland is transgender,” wrote Jeff.  “Although Ryland was born with female anatomy, her brain identifies with that of a boy.”

The Whittingtons cut Ryland’s hair, stopped using female pronouns and even sent out a letter to family and friends explaining the change.

“We lost a few, but the people who truly matter stuck by us,” wrote Jeff.

Last week Ryland shared his story at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast in Southern California and that’s when the video of the family's story was first shown.  Shortly after the Whittingtons decided to share it on YouTube and the message quickly went viral.

In a statement to the Huffington Post the family said they were overwhelmed with the kind and loving messages they were receiving after sharing their story.

"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."