She’s transgender, she’s Jewish, she’s Latina, and she’s the newest member of President Obama’s staff. Meet Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who will serve as Outreach and Recruitment Director for the Presidential Personnel Office. Freedman-Gurspan is the first transgender person to be appointed to a position within the White House, marking a great step forward for the transgender community.
Freedman-Gurspen has served as the Racial and Economic Justice Initiative Policy Advisor for the National Center for Transgender Equality, and has over ten years of experience working on policy related to trans rights. Her policy experience goes beyond the non-profit realm, as she was instrumental in passing the state of Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Law.
While other trans people have been appointed under the Obama administration, such as Dylan Orr in 2009, who was the first openly trans appointee, Amanda Simpson, who was the first trans woman to be appointed, and Shannon Price Minter, who was appointed this past June, Freedman-Gurspen is the first trans woman of color to hold a position in the White House. It is also of note that she will be the first appointee to work inside the White House, rather than as an appointee of an attached agency.
So why is it important that we differentiate and talk about Freedman-Gurspan regarding her race?
In the wake of the 17th murder of a trans person just this year, many of whom have been women of color, hope within the community is incredibly low. With report after report, hate crime after hate crime being perpetuated against this community, the ability to have hope and see progress is slim.
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan’s story is a breath of fresh air. This story, which celebrates a trans woman of color, who cares deeply about other trans women of color, and who has worked in crafting policy that can protect trans people, is needed.
The current administration has been the first to hire trans people to serve within agencies as well as within the White House. The reflection this has on the President’s willingness and want to have his staff reflect the diversity of the American people speaks volumes.
Congratulations to Raffi Freedman-Gurspan! We’re so excited for you.
Sources: The Advocate
Mehek Naresh is an Indian American lesbian, living and working in Florida after recently graduating with a Bachelors in Political Science. Her hobbies seeking out small talk with cashiers, reading, and spending more time staring at tumblr than she’d care to admit.