March 14, 2016 at 4:25 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
White House appoints first openly trans LGBT liaison
NCTE, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, gay news, Washington Blade

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan (Photo courtesy NCTE)

The White House has appointed transgender advocate Raffi Freedman-Gurspan as its new LGBT liaison, a White House official confirmed to the Washington Blade on Monday.

The news, first reported by Buzzfeed, makes Freedman-Gurspan the first openly transgender person to occupy the role of White House LGBT liaison. A graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Raffi was adopted from Honduras and grew up in Brookline, Mass.

Previously, Freedman-Gurspan served in the White House as director of outreach and recruitment for presidential personnel — an appointment that made her the first openly transgender person to serve as a White House official. She’ll keep that role in addition to serving as an associate director in the Office of Public Engagement, where she’ll be the White House’s primary liaison to LGBT people.

Freedman-Gurspan is the fourth person to serve officially as White House LGBT liaison during the Obama administration. Prior to Freedman-Gurspan, Aditi Hardikar held the position, but she departed the position in January to work for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Brian Bond, former CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and Gautam Raghavan, now vice president of policy for the Gill Foundation, also served as White House LGBT liaisons. (Not counted is Raul Alvillar, now DNC national political director, who served as White House LGBT liaison in an interim capacity.)

Before coming to the White House, Freedman-Gurspan worked at the National Center for Transgender Equality as policy adviser for the racial and economic justice initiative. Additionally, Freedman-Gurspan has been a legislative director in the Massachusetts House of Representatives;  LGBT liaison for the City of Somerville, Mass., and worked with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, hailed the news Freedman-Gurspan would take on the role of White House LGBT liaison.

“We are very pleased that President Obama has appointed Raffi to this position,” Keisling said. “I can’t think of anybody who would be more qualified or better at it based on her experience, skills and personality.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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