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Barbra Casbar Siperstein (November 20, 1942 – February 3, 2019) was an American transgender activist. She was the only openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee until her removal.[1][2]


Siperstein, born November 20,[3] 1942,[4] grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey.[5] Siperstein told her wife that she was transgender in the late 1980s, when she eventually revealed the truth to her wife. Carol was supportive of her. Carol encouraged Siperstein to transition in small steps. Siperstein was open with her family, but did not come out publicly until around 2000, when she began her activism in earnest. She was outed by a local newspaper, and continued to transition in strides. Siperstein has said that she channeled her grief about her wife's death into her activist work. Eight years after Carol's death, she changed her Hebrew name officially to a female name after a teshuva on the status of transgender people in the Jewish faith allowed her to do so. Siperstein started her activism fully after her daughter took over her family business, as she felt she was more free to advocate then.

Career and activism

Siperstein served in the Army and was a small-business owner. Siperstein advocated for marriage equality and against workplace discrimination. She also advocated for making gender equality an important part of any political agenda. She was one of 24 authors that helped write the Dallas Principles in 2009.[6]

Siperstein was President and a board member of the New Jersey Stonewall Democrats until its closure in 2013.[7] She was also Vice President of Garden State Equality and Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee Eastern Caucus. Through those organizations, she advocated for gender equality and against hate crime in New Jersey. She was also appointed to the New Jersey Review Commission. Siperstein had served as Deputy Vice Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. She was also Political Director of the Advocacy Association of New Jersey.[8][9]

In 2009, Siperstein became the first openly transgender member of the DNC, where she was appointed by then-chairman Tim Kaine. She was appointed to the Democratic National Committee's Executive Committee in 2011, where she served until October 2017. [8][10] In the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Siperstein was a superdelegate for then candidate Hillary Clinton.[11] As of 2016, she was one of 28 openly transgender people to serve on the Democratic National Committee.[12]

Siperstein contributed to the Huffington Post.[13]

Siperstein died on February 3, 2019, at age 76.[14] Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey ordered that flags be lowered to half staff in honor of her death. [15]


  1. ^ Giambusso, David. "N.J. woman to break new ground as first elected transgender DNC of member".
  2. ^ Lavin, Enrique. "N.J. transgender : Pocketbooks will decide winner in toilet debate".
  3. ^ Opinion: Reflections on Transgender Day of Rememberence, 2014
  4. ^ Executive Order No. 54
  5. ^ Rubin, Debra. "A new Hebrew name, a new identity: Synagogue ceremony marks transexual's emotional journey". New Jersey Jewish News.
  6. ^ Reichman, Jodi. "Barbra Casbar Siperstein". T-House.
  7. ^ Lavers, Michael. "National Stonewall Democrats curtails operations". Washington Blade.
  8. ^ a b "American Conference Pays Tribute to NJ's Rights Advocate "Babs" Siperstein". American Conference on Diversity.
  9. ^ Aregood, JT. "The 15 Most Influential Advocates in NJ Politics". Observer.
  10. ^ Sitz-Wald, Alex (October 19, 2017). "Shake-Up at Democratic National Committee, Longtime Officials Ousted". NBC News. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  11. ^ Catalini, Michael. "Clinton earning delegate support in New Jersey". Associated Press.
  12. ^ Siperstein, Barbra. "DNC Transgender Delegates Double Participation In 2016". The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post.
  13. ^ Siperstein, Barbra. "Barbra Casbar Siperstein". The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post.
  14. ^ Siperstein, Barbra. "Garden State Equality mourns the loss of transgender activist and icon Barbra "Babs" Siperstein". Garden State Equality. Garden State Equality.
  15. ^