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Republican Congresswoman and Her Transgender Son Speak Out

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is one of the leading voices in Congress advocating acceptance for the transgender community, and now she’s taken her fight for her trans son and others nationwide.

The Republican representative from Florida and her son, Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, sat down for an interview with Telemundo, the Miami-based Spanish-language network, for a segment on its nationally broadcast newscast titled “Love That Breaks Barriers.”

“It’s not easy to speak out in public about having a transgender son when there’s so much discrimination in this world,” said Heng-Lehtinen, a staff member at GLAAD. “For us, family is family and love is love.”

In the interview broadcast last week, Heng-Lehtinen told Telemundo he had worried about how his parents would react if he came out as trans. Both his father and his mother work at jobs serving the public, and they raised him in a conservative Spanish-speaking neighborhood in South Florida.

“People tell me and my husband, ‘Oh, how great that you are accepting him.’ First of all, he’s our son. He’s a blessing. He’s a gift from our creator,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. “It’s been an adventure for our family. An adventure of acceptance and learning what our priorities in life are.”

This isn’t the first time the GOP congresswoman has talked publicly about her son. Ros-Lehtinen joined California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff in July to introduce a bill that would prohibit counselors at so-called boot camps from engaging in efforts to try to change a camper’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

But what caught the eye of Miami Herald writer Patricia Mazzei was that they spoke at length on the national network about how parents should welcome their transgender children, which she wrote “seemed particularly poignant.”

“It’s a tragedy that a great proportion of young people who pass through this transition are rejected by their families,” Ros-Lehtinen told Telemundo.

Watch Telemundo’s interview with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, below. Note the video is in Spanish.