Jewish Transgender Woman Appointed Senior LGBT Liaison to White House

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan was 'a powerful leader for trans inclusion' in her Brookline synagogue, says Jewish LGBT advocacy group.

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Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the first transgender White House official. August 18, 2015.
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the first transgender White House official. August 18, 2015.Credit: Associated Press

Less than a year after becoming the first openly transgender person to serve in the White House, a Jewish woman has been promoted to serve as its senior liaison to the LGBT community.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, a Honduras native who was raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, by Jewish parents, will serve as the White House’s “lead point of contact” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender groups, BuzzFeed News reported Monday.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Freedman-Gurspan’s former employer, praised the appointment.

“Raffi’s skills and personality make her the exact right person for this important job,” Keislin told BuzzFeed.

Freedman-Gurspan, who is in her late 20s, was “a powerful leader for trans inclusion” in her Brookline synagogue, Temple Beth Zion, according to the Jewish LGBT advocacy group Keshet. She also was active in the Jewish Student Union as an undergraduate at St. Olaf College in Minneapolis.

Although Freedman-Gurspan was the first transgender White House staffer, another Jewish woman, Amanda Simpson, was the first transgender individual to hold a position in the U.S. executive branch. U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Simpson in 2010 to senior technical adviser in the Bureau of Industry and Security at the Department of Commerce.