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Obama Appoints Transgender Activist to Faith-Based Advisory Council

Obama Appoints Transgender Activist to Faith-Based Advisory Council

U.S. President Barack Obama attends a press conference at the International Convention Center in Hanoi, Vietnam, 23 May 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Luong Thai Linh/Pool)

President Barack Obama has named a transgender woman to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Barbara Satin | (Photo: Facebook/Barbara Satin)

The White House announced earlier this month that Barbara Satin, the assistant faith work director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, was named as a member of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which advises the president on how to improve partnerships to serve Americans in need.

Satin, a member of the United Church of Christ, is the first openly transgender member of the United Church of Christ's executive council.

"I am both honored and humbled to be selected to serve on the President's advisory council," Satin, an Air Force veteran, said in a statement released through the United Church of Christ. "Given the current political climate, I believe it's important that a voice of faith representing the transgender and gender non-conforming community — as well as a person of my years, nearly 82 — be present and heard in these vital conversations."

Satin has long been active in the Minnesota LGBT community. Among her many accomplishments, she recently worked on the development of an LGBT senior housing project in Minneapolis called Spirit on Lake. She also served on OutFront Minnesota's Board of Directors from 2001 until 2008.

Additionally, Satin has served on the board of directors for the PFund Foundation, a LGBT organization that advocates for gay rights in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, since 2013.

According to the LGBT Religious Archives Network, Satin was raised as a boy in a Catholic family. The website explains that Satin knew of his "gender difference" at a young age but did not quite understand the problem or how to address it.

Satin, who was previously known as David, went to seminary for two years before dropping out after realizing that priestly ministry was not going to work. Satin then went to a Catholic high school. After graduating, he went to a Catholic college.

After college Satin worked as a director of a public relations firm and became a lay leader in the Roman Catholic Church. Satin retired at the age of 54 in order to explore his gender identity. After seeking help from a therapist, Satin began to adopt a transgender identity.

"As a way to more fully explore her identity, she moved out of the family home to live full-time as Barbara," the website explained. "She also left the Catholic Church at that time, feeling that there was no place for a trans women to be of service in that denomination."

Along with the appointment of Satin, Obama also appointed Sikh leader Manjit Singh to the council. Manjit is the co-founder and chairman of the board of directors of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

In addition, the president also appointed Baha'i leader Naseem Kourosh to the council. Kourosh is the human rights officer at the U.S. Bahá'í Office of Public Affairs.

"These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles," Obama said in a statement that accompanied the appointments. "I look forward to working with them."

The three appointees will join National Associations of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson and 14 others as members of the council.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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