Obama appoints first transgender staff member

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Image: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

On Tuesday, President of the United States Barack Obama appointed Raffi Freedman-Gurspan to be an outreach and recruitment director in the White House Office of Presidential Personal. Freedman-Gurspan is the first openly transgender White House staff member.

Freedman-Gurspan previously served as a policy advisor at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).

‘Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions,’ said Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Obama. ‘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 NCTE said, ‘President Obama has long said he wants his administration to look like the American people. I have understood this to include transgender Americans. That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant. And that the first White House transgender appointee is of a friend is inspiring to me and to countless others who have been touched by Raffi’s advocacy.’

The Obama administration has recently faced criticism for its interactions with the transgender community, particularly after President Obama kicked out a transgender woman at a White House when she interrupted his speech on LGBT civil rights to raise awareness of the plight of LGBT immigrants in detention centres.

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