Jewish woman to be White House’s first openly transgender staffer


(JTA) — A Jewish woman of color will be the first openly transgender person to serve in the White House.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who was born in Honduras and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, by Jewish parents, has been hired as an outreach and recruitment director in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, the White House announced Tuesday.

According to Keshet, a Jewish LGBT advocacy group, Freedman-Gurspan “was a powerful leader for trans inclusion” in her Brookline synagogue, Temple Beth Zion, “and mobilized faith leaders in the campaign to pass the Massachusetts Trans Equality Bill,” which went into effect in 2012. She also was active in the Jewish Student Union as an undergraduate at St. Olaf College in Minneapolis.

Freedman-Gurspan, 28, moved to Washington in 2014 to work with the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Although Freedman-Gurspan is the first transgender White House staffer, another Jewish woman, Amanda Simpson, is the first transgender individual to hold a position in the U.S. executive branch. Simpson was appoinfted by President Barack Obama in 2010 to the position of senior technical adviser in the Bureau of Industry and Security at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Raffi Freedman-Gurspan was raised by a single Jewish mother.

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