Raffi Freedman-Gurspan made history Tuesday, becoming the first out transgender person to work as an official at the White House.
Freedman-Gurspan, previously a policy adviser for the Racial and Economic Justice Initiative at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), was appointed to the White House Office of Presidential Personnel where she will work as an outreach and recruitment director.
"President Obama has long said he wants his Administration to look like the American people. I have understood this to include transgender Americans," NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said in a statement.
"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," Keisling said.
Keisling said Freedman-Gurspan's work at NCTE had seen her advocate for better living conditions for transgender prisoners, explore "biased policing" against the transgender community, and limit detention for undocumented transgender immigrants.
She has also previously worked to address the issue of violence against transgender women of color, an issue that continues to make headlines. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs announced Tuesday that 17 transgender people, 15 of them individuals of color, were killed in 2015.
In her new role, Freedman-Gurspan will be tasked with helping the Obama administration with making selections for presidential appointments across the executive branch.
Valerie Jarrett, a senior presidential adviser, said Freedman-Gurspan represents "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," Jarrett said.
In a statement, Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and chief executive of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund Institute, said government works best when it reflects the diversity of all Americans.
"We’re celebrating because this is an important milestone for the transgender community, but we’re also thrilled that Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, an incredibly smart, talented, and committed professional, will now be working for the American people," Moodie-Mills said.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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