I know that everyone has been distracted, what with the Ides of March passing, five primaries, and the beginning of March Madness, but you know what?
Other things continue to happen.
Why, just Monday the White House appointed the first ever transgender person to the post of LGBT liaison. She's a Jewish Latina trans woman (you know, the person you joke about when trying to be over-the-top absurdly politically correct), named Raffi Freedman-Gurspan.
Freedman-Gurspan became the first transgender staffer appointed to the White House in 2015, working as the outreach and recruitment director in the presidential personnel office.
Raffi's new official title is Outreach & Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel and Associate Director for Public Engagement.
Marsha Scott, a straight woman, was the first White House gay and lesbian liaison, named to the role by President Clinton in 1995. Later, cisgender gays and lesbians held the role in the Clinton and Obama administrations. The position was held most recently by Aditi Hardikar, who left the post in January to join Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
It should be no surprise that the position was unfilled during the Bush administration.
Before joining the White House, Raffi was a policy adviser at the National Center for Transgender Equality and a legislative director in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
We believe it is a tremendous decision by the White House to recognize Raffi’s leadership as well as the importance of having transgender leadership in an important role for the community.
--JoDee Winterhof, Human Rights Campaign
Raffi is a great choice. President Obama has said he wants his administration to look like America, and they have moved to include trans Americans. Raffi’s skills and personality make her the exact right person for this important job.
--Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this Administration champions.
Her commitment to bettering the lives of transgender Americans, particularly transgender people of color and those in poverty, reflects the values of this Administration.
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan understands how policy affects real people. Freedman-Gurspan will bring her impressive track record and experience in advocating for social and economic justice to her new position in the White House. Her deep commitment in advocating for those most in need and without a voice in our society will be a tremendous asset to the White House and to the country as a whole.
--Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center
White House officials credited Aditi Hardikar with playing a critical role in some of the administration’s more cutting edge and controversial moves on gay and transgender rights, such as the opening of the first-ever all-gender restrooms at the White House and the decision to light up the White House in rainbow colors the day the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationally.
Other transgender presidential appointees include Dylan Orr, special assistant in the Labor Department Office of Disability Employment Policy, who has moved on to work in Seattle city government, Amanda Simpson in the Department of Commerce, who now is executive director at the US Army Office of Energy Initiatives, Amelie Koran, IT policy analyst, currently employed in the Department of the Treasury, and Shannon Price Minter, appointed to President Obama's Commission on White House Fellowships.