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White House hires first transgender member of staff

Joe Williams August 18, 2015

One of the most influential houses in the world has hired its first trans official.

The White House announced Raffi Freedman-Gurspan’s appointment on Tuesday, reports the Associated Press.

Ms Freedman-Gurspan will work as an “outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel” in the Office of Personnel.

She previously worked as a policy adviser for the National Centre for Transgender Equality’s (NCTE) racial and economic justice initiative.

Trans advocates say she is the first openly transgender official to serve in the White House and hailed the appointment as a vital step forward for the LGBT community and for ensuring that the federal government includes the voices and experiences of all Americans.

The announcement was quickly praised by trans advocates, none more so than NCTE.

“President Obama has long said he wants his Administration to look like the American people. I have understood this to include transgender Americans,” NCTE executive director Mara Keisling said.

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

“That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of colour is itself significant.”

 

The President has promised to put race-related murders and hate crimes at the forefront of his agenda and the leader has also been urged to investigate the worrying increase in trans-related killings.

Three trans women were reportedly murdered last week alone – bringing the total number of those killed in the US this year to 16 so far – though as there is little official monitoring, this may be a low estimate.

As the issue attracts attention for the first time – with Caitlyn Jenner giving over her blog earlier this week to talk about “the number of murders of transgender women of colour” – Barack Obama has been urged to act.

An official White House petition says: “Since January 9, 2015, [now sixteen] transgender women, mostly women of colour, 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.

More: Barack Obama, caitlyn jenner, The White House, US, USA

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