History is being made within the White House with 28-year-old Raffi Freedman-Gurspan becoming the first openly transgender official to serve inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
ABC News cites an announcement made by the Obama administration that Freedman-Gurspan began her new job Tuesday (Aug. 18). The former National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) policy advisor’s new gig involves being the new outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, according to the NCTE.
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett expressed her excitement in having Freedman-Gurspan on board in a statement, telling ABC News that she “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,” she said.
As far as what Freedman-Gurspan will actually do, the White Houses’ website noted that she will be directing presidential personnel staffers who work to recruit qualified candidates to serve the president in departments and agencies across the government. In addition, the office is responsible for ensuring that personnel priorities of the administration are being addressed.
News of Freedman-Gurspan’s historic appointment was praised by LGBTQ+ advocates, who applauded the fact that the presidential administration is starting to mirror the actual diversity of America.
“I am elated that Raffi Freedman-Gurspan will become the first openly transgender staff member at the White House,” NCTE executive director Mara Keisling voiced in a statement. “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.”
Despite the presence of a handful of transgender people previously appointed to presidential commissions and boards, Freedman-Gurspan’s appointment represents a major step in her being the first openly transgender person working in the White House.
Noting Freedman-Gurspan’s time as a policy advisor for the NCTE, Keisling added that her colleague addressed improving conditions for transgender prisoners as well as spent her time addressing biased policing in trans communities, limiting use of detention for undocumented transgender immigrants and finding solutions to address violence against trans women of color.
In addition to the White House, Massachusetts state Rep. Carl Sciortino Jr. shared with ABC News that that Freedman-Gurspan made history in the state as the first outwardly transgender woman working at the Massachusetts State House before she worked for the NCTE.
“Raffi is a role model,” Sciortino said in a statement. “As the first out transgender woman working at the Massachusetts State House, she showed leadership and courage, and among her many contributions, was instrumental in helping pass the Transgender Equal Rights Law.”