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First Openly Transgender Official Hired at White House

The White House has hired its first openly transgender staff member.
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the White House's first openly transgender staff member
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the White House's first openly transgender staff memberCOURTESY NATIONAL CENTER FOR TRA

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.

Related: Feds: Employers Should Give Transgender Staff Bathroom Choice

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. 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," 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's hiring is the latest in a series of steps the Obama administration has undertaken to support transgender equality.

In April, the Obama administration took the high profile step of designating a gender-neutral restroom in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is near the White House and home to many staff offices and meetings.

That same month, an executive order went into effect prohibiting companies that contract with the federal government from discriminating against transgender and gay employees.

In June, President Barack Obama applauded Caitlyn Jenner's public transition to life as a woman.

Community leaders and advocates hailed the move.

"As the first openly transgender person to work for the White House, Raffi’s appointment is another important step toward ensuring our federal government fully includes the voices and experiences of our communities," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. "We’re confident that Raffi will continue the Obama Administration’s strong record of appointing qualified openly LGBT public servants to positions across the federal government.”