Jewish woman becomes first openly transgender White House official

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan was raised by a Jewish single mother in Brookline, MA; previously worked for National Center for Transgender Equality

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan (Facebook)
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan (Facebook)

The White House has hired its first openly transgender staff member.

The White House announced Raffi Freedman-Gurspan’s appointment on Tuesday. Freedman-Gurspan is an outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel in the Office of Personnel. Transgender advocates say she is the first openly transgender official to serve in the White House.

Freedman-Gurspan previously was a policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality’s racial and economic justice initiative.

Freedman-Gurspan was born in Honduras and adopted by a single Jewish mother in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Marion Freedman-Gurspan wrote in a book entitled “Transitions of the Heart” that Raffi began identifying as gay at age 12, and by junior year of college, studying in Norway, had started dressing like a woman. “I sent a son abroad for his junior year of college…by the time [I] visited Norway in May, [I] was visiting a daughter.”

Freedman-Gurspan served on the Jewish Student Union of St. Olaf College in Minneapolis, according to her LinkedIn profile.

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

“A transgender person was inevitably going to work in the White House,” said Mara Keisling of Freedman-Gurspan‘s former employer the National Center for Transgender Equality.

“That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant.”

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Freedman-Gurspan’s commitment to improving the lives of transgender Americans reflects the values of the Obama administration.

“Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions,” said Jarrett.


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