White House Appoints First Transgender Official, Who Is Jewish

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan will serve as outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel.

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

The White House has appointed its first openly transgender official, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who is Jewish.

Freedman-Gurspan was appointed Tuesday as an outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel in the Office of Personnel, according to reports. Previously, she was a policy adviser at the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Born in Honduras, Freedman-Gurspan was adopted by a Jewish mother in Brookline, Mass. She was active in the Jewish Student Union at St. Olaf College in Minneapolis.

Advocates for transgender equality welcomed her appointment, while White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Freedman-Gurspan “demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions.”

“A transgender person was inevitably going to work in the White House,” said Mara Keisling, who worked with Freedman-Gurspan at the National Center for Transgender Equality, according to reports. “That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant.”