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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 21, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 34
First Transgender White House staffer: Obama hires NCTE's Raffi Freedman-Gurspan
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First Transgender White House staffer: Obama hires NCTE's Raffi Freedman-Gurspan

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The White House announced on August 18 that it had hired its first openly Transgender staffer. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan will work as an 'outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel' in the Office of Personnel.

Seattle native Dylan Orr, now director of the City's Office of Labor Standards, was the first openly Transgender presidential appointment. In 2009 President Obama appointed him to a position in the Labor Department.

Freedman-Gurspan was previously a policy advisor for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) racial and economic justice initiative.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling hailed the appointment.

'President Obama has long said he wants his Administration to look like the American people. I have understood this to include transgender Americans,' Keisling said in a statement.

'A transgender person was inevitably going to work in the White House.

'That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant.'

The President has promised to use federal resources to investigate race-related hate crimes and he is being urged to address violence against the Trans community as well.

A petition posted on the White House website notes that 'Since January 9, 2015, eight [at the time the petition was posted, now sixteen] transgender women, mostly women of color, have lost their lives due to hate and transphobia.

'Eight of these beautiful lives were lost in the first two months of the year.

'With such a high death toll, something must be done to raise awareness and end the senseless killings of a targeted, vulnerable community.'

Three Trans women were reportedly murdered in the week just prior to Freedman-Gurspan's appointment, bringing the total number of those killed in the U.S. this year to 16 so far. Activists say this may be a low estimate, because there is no official federal reporting of crimes targeting the Trans community.

Caitlyn Jenner has also used her blog to call attention to 'the number of murders of transgender women of color' who are targets of violence.

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