White House Hires First Openly Transgender Staff Member

The White House has hired its first openly transgender staff member, officials said on Tuesday, marking the latest step in President Barack Obama’s public support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, a transgender woman who has worked as a policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality, will serve as outreach and recruitment director in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

Obama, who is currently on vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard, initially opposed gay marriage but came out in favor of it in 2012 and has made LGBT rights a priority of his time in office, helping to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevented openly gay service men and women from serving in the military.

The transgender community has received less attention from his administration. The Department of Defense is in the middle of a review of the policy that effectively prohibits transgender men and women from serving in the military, and the White House has said it welcomes that move.