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White House hires first transgender staff member

August 18, 2015

The White House has announced that it has hired its first openly transgender official. Transgender advocates have hailed the move, saying it underscored the administration's drive against inequality.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo

White House officials said that former activist Raffi Freedman-Gurspan began work on Tuesday in a team that recruits personnel to serve the president.

"Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions," said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

"Her commitment to bettering the lives of transgender Americans, particularly transgender people of color and those in poverty, reflects the values of this administration."

Important step for LGBT community

Transgender advocates said she was the first openly transgender official to serve in the White House. The Obama administration has supported efforts to advance the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, amid conservative opposition. Obama has recently spoken in favor of sexual minority rights in Africa as well.

Freedman-Gurspan was previously a policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality, in its racial and economic justice initiative. She previously worked on projects aimed at improving conditions for transgender prisoners, policing, the detention of transgender immigrants and violence against transgender women.

Advocates hailed her appointment as an important step for the LGBT community and for ensuring that the federal government included the voices and experiences of all Americans.

ss/cmk (AP, AFP)