President Barack Obama has appointed Raffi Freedman-Gurspan to serve as the White House’s primary LGBT liaison, making her the first transgender person to serve in the job, White House officials told BuzzFeed Monday. Activist groups applauded the move, which is just another step the Obama administration has taken in being a steady advocate for transgender rights.
“Raffi is a great choice,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, BuzzFeed reported. “President Obama has said he wants his administration to look like America, and they have moved to include trans Americans. Raffi’s skills and personality make her the exact right person for this important job.”
In her new position, Freedman-Gurspan will work as the outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel and associate director for public engagement, functioning as the White House’s lead point of contact for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups on all issues.
— LGBT Equality Caucus (@LGBTEqCaucus) March 14, 2016
Prior to her new position, Freedman-Gurspan became the first openly transgender White House official when the Obama administration hired her in August to work as the director of outreach and recruitment for the personnel office in the West Wing of the White House. Before that, she worked as the policy adviser for the racial and justice initiative at the National Center for Transgender Equality. Freedman-Gurspan served as the legislative director to state Rep. Carl M. Sciortino Jr. in Boston, the LGBT liaison for the city of Somerville, Massachusetts, and as a legislative and policy staff member at the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.
Obama has made many moves in advancing sexual and gender minority rights during his time in office, including barring discrimination against transgender government employees and advancing efforts to allow transgender military personnel to serve openly.
“We believe it is a tremendous decision by the White House to recognize Raffi’s leadership as well as the importance of having transgender leadership in an important role for the community,” said JoDee Winterhof, the senior vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, BuzzFeed reported.