On Tuesday, the White House announced that it had hired its first openly transgender staffer, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who will be an outreach and recruitment director the the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. She had previously served as a policy adviser at the National Center for Transgender Equality.

In a statement, Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama, said that 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 this administration.”

The New York Times reports:

The appointment follows several other transgender hires in the administration, including at the Defense Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. But White House officials said Ms. Freedman-Gurspan was the first to be hired to work directly in the White House.

Activists have praised Mr. Obama for his activism on behalf of gay, lesbian and transgender people, especially since announcing that he had “evolved” on the issue of same-sex marriage. This year, the administration called for an end to “conversion therapy” aimed at “repairing” gay, lesbian and transgender youth.

At NCTE, Freedman-Gurspan worked to push forward policies benefitting transgender prisoners, undocumented immigrants, and towards reducing violence against transgender women of color.

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“President Obama has long said he wants his Administration to look like the American people. I have understood this to include transgender Americans,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the NCTE in a statement. “That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant.”


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