In a breakthrough for Transgender rights, the White House announced on Monday that National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) staff member Raffi Freedman-Gurspan had been appointed the new Outreach and Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.
President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, made a statement to the Washington Blade welcoming Freedman-Gurspan to the White House:
“Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions,” Jarrett said. “Her commitment to bettering the lives of transgender Americans, particularly transgender people of color and those in poverty, reflects the values of this administration.”
Freedman-Gurspan previously served as the Policy Adviser for the Racial and Economic Justice Initiative at the NCTE. The non-profit’s Executive Director Mara Keisling praised the appointment of her former colleague:
“I am elated that Raffi Freedman-Gurspan will become the first openly transgender staff member at the White House. President Obama has long said he wants his Administration to look like the American people. I have understood this to include transgender Americans. A transgender person was inevitably going to work in the White House. 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.
“Raffi’s decade of experience brings important qualities to this historic appointment. She has been a vital part of NCTE focusing on the experiences of transgender people of color and those living in poverty. Her work included advocacy on issues such as improving the conditions for transgender prisoners, addressing biased policing against transgender communities, limiting the use of detention for undocumented transgender immigrants, and finding solutions to address violence against transgender women of color. Her experience and knowledge of how to accomplish policy change, as well as her core commitment to racial and economic justice, has made NCTE’s work better.”
With her new job, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan will oversee the recruitment of qualified candidates for presidentially appointed jobs within the West Wing and throughout the departments of government, essentially serving as a kind of head of human resources and head hunting for the administration.