The White House that it hired an openly transgender person as a member of its staff for the first time. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who formerly served in trans advocacy as policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Racial & Economic Justice Initiative, has been appointed to a senior position in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. She began her new role as an outreach and recruitment director in the Presidential Personnel Office on Tuesday. Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, welcomed the addition and said in a statement to the Washington Blade.
“Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions. Her commitment to bettering the lives of transgender Americans, particularly transgender people of color and those in poverty, reflects the values of this administration.”
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she’s “elated” about the addition of Freedman-Gurspan to the White House staff.
“That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant. And that the first White House transgender appointee is a friend is inspiring to me and to countless others who have been touched by Raffi’s advocacy.”
At her previous position, Freedman-Gurspan focused on the experiences of transgender people of color and those living in poverty. Among her duties was advocacy on behalf of improving the conditions of transgender people in prison, addressing biased policing against transgender communities, limiting the use of detention for undocumented transgender immigrants and finding solutions to address violence against transgender communities of color.
Wade Henderson, CEO of the Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights, said Freedman-Gurspan’s appointment represents “a remarkable step forward” for LGBT rights.
“As the old saying goes ‘if you’re not in the room, then you can’t possibly be at the table.’ Our nation will be stronger with Freedman-Gurspan, an advocate from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights coalition, both in the room and at the table as the first openly transgender White House staffer.”
(via Washington Blade)