Rodrigo Lehtinen

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Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen (born Amanda Michelle Lehtinen on April 1, 1986 in Miami, Florida[1]) is a Cuban-American, transgender LGBT rights advocate.[2]

Early years[edit]

Heng-Lehtinen is a graduate of Palmer Trinity School where he was on the honor roll several times.[3][4][5][6] In high school, he was active in a dramatic arts club and a mountaineering team,[7] served in the Honor Council,[8] and founded a chapter of Amnesty International at the school.[7] He began living openly as a transgender man while attending Brown University, which is when he informed his parents.[7]


Heng-Lehtinen was a member of Queer Alliance at Brown University. While attending Brown University, he produced the documentary Free Within These Walls, about Cuban prisoners of conscience.[9] Heng-Lehtinen was a field organizer for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.[10] Later, he was the Membership Director at Gender Justice LA, a grassroots organization that works to build the power of the transgender community in Los Angeles through community organizing and leadership development. He also worked in fundraising at Liberty Hill Foundation, organized a transgender leadership development conference with the Transgender Law Center, and served as the membership manager at GLAAD, an LGBT media advocacy organization.[11]

In May 2015, Heng-Lehtinen was honored by the LGBT-rights group, SAVE, at its 2015 Champions of Equality reception. He was honored for appearing with his mother in a highly-rated television interview, increasing visibility of the transgender community.[12]

In May 2016, Heng-Lehtinen and his parents appeared in a public service announcement titled "Family is Everything", which discusses his family's personal journey and acceptance, that all South Florida families should embrace their children, and the reason why all Americans should have the same opportunities regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.[13]

Heng-Lehtinen is now the public education director at Freedom For All Americans[14], the national campaign for LGBT nondiscrimination protections.

Personal life[edit]

Heng-Lehtinen is the oldest child of lawyer Dexter Lehtinen and congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.[15][16] He is the grandson of author Enrique Ros.[15] He is the first openly transgender child of a member of Congress.[17]

He is married to Kristofer Heng-Lehtinen, who is of Scandinavian descent and an artist living and working in Miami. Rodrigo Lehtinen changed his name to Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen when they married in March 2015.


  1. ^ Viglucci, Andres. "Lehtinens' First Hurrah is a Seven-pound Girl". The Miami Herald. April 2, 1986.
  2. ^ "Exclusive Interview with Rodrigo Lehtinen". Ambiente Magazine. Accessed on February 6, 2015.
  3. ^ "Palmer Scholars". The Miami Herald. January 7, 2001.
  4. ^ "Palmer Achievers". The Miami Herald. April 8, 2001.
  5. ^ "Palmer Honors". The Miami Herald. June 30, 2002.
  6. ^ "Palmer News". The Miami Herald. December 22, 2002.
  7. ^ a b c DeFede, Jim. "Amanda to Rodrigo, the son of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen" (Spanish). The Nuevo Herald. November 19, 2014. p. 1A.
  8. ^ "Palmer Trinity Names Honor Council Members". The Miami Herald. October 3, 2002.
  9. ^ Janusonis, Michael. "Latin American Film Festival - Cuba in the Spotlight - With Subtitles". Providence Journal. September 25, 2009. p. D1.
  10. ^ Rothaus, Steve. "Gay Rights Group will honor Two Lawmakers". The Miami Herald. March 17, 2010. p. 1B.
  11. ^ "GOP congresswoman, transgender son press for equal protections". Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  12. ^ Rothaus, Steve. "SAVE to honor trans activists Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, Arianna Lint; FIU's Mark Rosenberg". The Miami Herald. April 3, 2015.
  13. ^ "Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Husband Dexter, and Son Rodrigo Partner with SAVE and MDC to Promote Equality for all Americans". Targeted News Service. May 12, 2016.
  14. ^ "FFAA staff listing". Freedom For All Americans Team. Freedom For All Americans. Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  15. ^ a b Rothaus, Steve. "From Amanda to Rodrigo: CBS4 interviews Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's transgender son". The Miami Herald. November 18, 2014.
  16. ^ Meluzá, Lourdes. "Frente" (Spanish). The Nuevo Herald. August 30, 1987.
  17. ^ "Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Opens Up About Her Son, The First Trans Child Of A Member Of Congress". The Huffington Post. Accessed on November 19, 2014.