US President Barack Obama speaks before signing an Executive Order to protect LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) employees from workplace discrimination in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 21, 2014.
JEWEL SAMAD—AFP/Getty Images
By Daniel White
August 18, 2015

The White House has hired its first openly transgender staffer.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan was appointed outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel, the White House announced Tuesday. She previously worked as a policy advisor at the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Advocates for the LGBT community celebrated the move. In a statement, Wade Henderson, president and CEO at The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human rights, hailed the appointment as a “remarkable step-forward for the LGBT community.”

“As the old saying goes ‘if you’re not in the room, then you can’t possibly be at the table,'” he said. “Our nation will be stronger with Freedman-Gurspan, an advocate from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights coalition, both in the room and at the table as the first openly transgender White House staffer.”

President Obama has taken other steps recently to acknowledge the transgender community. In January, he became the first president to use the word “transgender” in a State of the Union speech. In April, he said he backs banning the use of “conversion therapy” on gay and transgender youths.

And in July he signed an executive order barring discrimination against transgender people working for government contractors. That same month, the Pentagon announced it will lift a ban on transgender troops.

Read Next: Why Transgender People Are Being Murdered at a Historic Rate

 

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