The White House announced today that Raffi Freedman-Gurspan would be the first openly transgender person to work in the office.
She will serve as director of outreach and recruitment for presidential personnel. She was previously a policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality's racial and economic justice initiative. She started work Monday.
“Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions,” Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, said in a statement. “Her commitment to bettering the lives of transgender Americans, particularly transgender people of color and those in poverty, reflects the values of this administration.”
LGBT nonprofit Human Rights Watch issued a release congratulating Freedman-Gurspan on an "immense honor."
As the Wall Street Journal notes, Obama has faced criticism from the trans community for not doing enough to highlight their struggles, even as he has elsewhere pushed to advance the rights of gays and lesbians. At a White House event in June celebrating Gay Pride Month, Obama was interrupted by a transgender attendee, Lee writes.
Still, National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Keisling issued a statement praising the decision.
“President Obama has long said he wants his administration to look like the American people,” Keisling said. “I have understood this to include transgender Americans.”
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.