Family

Republican Congresswoman with transgender son supports Obama’s bathroom mandate

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, at her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 3, 2015. (Chad Batka/The New York Times)

Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a 25-year Congresswoman from Miami, agrees with the Obama administration’s stance that schools should let students use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex they identify with. While she doesn’t agree with the president on many other matters, Ros-Lehtinen had a personal stake in this issue — nearly 10 years ago, her son came out as transgender, shedding birth name Amanda for Rodriqo, or Rigo. She and her husband Dexter Lehtinen, a veteran Army Ranger and federal prosecutor, accepted Rigo’s news without hesitation and have been advocating for transgender rights ever since.

“Allowing students to use the bathroom of their authentic selves is a step forward in stopping the stigma around transgender individuals,” Ros-Lehtinen told The New York Times. “Unnecessary laws only make transgender youth feel unaccepted, and can lead to depression or even worse, suicide.”

Ros-Lehtinen, the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress, appears with her husband and Rigo in a new PSA from SAVE, a gay rights group in South Florida looking to engage with the Latino community.

“The Republican Party’s stance on the issue is lagging behind,” Ros-Lehtinen told the Times. “But folks are figuring out that there is no political harm in embracing these issues and, in fact, they see a lot of good can come out of it.”

Read more about Ros-Lehtinen’s work and Rigo’s story at The New York Times.

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