At 10 years old, Reggie Greer already knew what he’d do in life. After thumbing through history books about presidents for school in Wichita Falls, Texas, he recognized the responsibility government had in shepherding opportunity and equality for everyone. This burgeoning interest led his parents to take him to D.C., where he experienced what all young children do during initial visits to the nation’s capital: gawking at the monuments, floating through the museum exhibits, and experiencing the bustle of people donning suits and ties on the Metro.
“I remember I was fascinated with public service and politics,” Greer says. “[The visit] enriched my imagination even further, and I was determined to do whatever I needed to do to get back.”
Now, at 34, Greer is a D.C. resident and White House staffer. The young boy who aspired to join the ranks of governance accomplished his dream, several times over, and is now a senior advisor on LGBTQ+ issues and the director of priority placement in President Joe Biden’s administration, where he promotes LGBTQ+ inclusion and acts as a liaison between the community and the White House.
“I think I loved the idea of government, whether it be the local, state or federal levels, being used as an instrument for good,” Greer says, echoing fellow Texan and former President Lyndon B. Johnson. “I think public service invites everyone to this center square where people have a role to play in shaping life for all of us.”
Engaging + Serving the Public
Greer has always approached his roles in public service from a multifaceted perspective. A Black gay man born with hemifacial microsomia, he’s a member of several minority communities, and his personal experiences continue to play a vital role in his methodology as an advocate.
“All of our personal stories power us to do what we do,” he says. “For me, the connection was a little bit more clear. I had 18 surgeries before my 16th birthday. Because my dad was an engineer and my mom was a nurse, insurance got us through all those surgeries. I remember thinking how important it was for everyone to have healthcare.”
He says he knew there were other Americans out there like him, and because of this, he realized how imperative it was to mitigate these challenges for others with less.
“I’ve always been interested and impassioned about how to bring these communities in, whether it be low-income, LGBTQ+ or people with disabilities, and learning from them and policy experts so we can get the right work done. The more we can learn from people’s stories, [the more] we can start to fix our systems and institutions.”
He uses the term “story” a lot over the course of our conversation, as he prioritizes his role to listen and give a voice to people willing to share concerns. Over the course of his career, the term “engagement” has often been a heavy focus for him both personally and professionally.
“I think it’s so important people are brought into the process,” Greer says. “The moment we have right now in front of us to fight for equity is all rooted in the idea we come together to listen to what people are asking their government to do and then deliver on that. I wake up every day humbled that I have such a small role to play.”
Family, Love + Coming Out
Greer doesn’t get far in thought without bringing up his parents. He says the two constantly encouraged him to put himself out there, explore interests and interact with the world beyond his hometown.
“The common denominator growing up was to push myself,” he says. “I ran for class president and student council president, and I won. In sixth grade, I was student council president and I had just had ear surgery, so I was walking around with this big cone on my head with a wrap that looked like an eye patch. If people got to know and understand me at a fundamental level then they would like me, and if they didn’t, it wasn’t my problem.”
When talking about his own upbringing, Greer can’t help but draw comparisons to what he feels people need today. As he opens up about growing up in Wichita Falls and expresses gratitude for the sense of community he felt there, he ties in how he wants to bottle up this feeling and give it to the people he’s trying to help and serve.
“As we’re thinking about the kind of support trans kids need right now or other folks who live on the margins, they need this,” he says with compassionate conviction. “It’s community. It’s love. It’s support. It’s constant reaffirmation of your own humanity, so you can have a chance at thriving. I’m just really incredibly blessed and lucky to have that community in Wichita Falls, Texas.”
This sense of togetherness and familial love was never more apparent for Greer than when he came out at 24. Instead of a big meeting with all of his loved ones, he opted for personal conversations with people closest to him, culminating in telling each of his parents one-on-one during a Christmas visit to Texas.
“I told my parents on Christmas Day, first my mom and then my dad, which I think created the most interesting Christmas dinner ever.”
Both reacted positivity, harkening back to all the moments they propelled Greer to constantly explore what it meant to be himself.
“Together, all their questions were carried out with the utmost amount of love and care. I walked away from that experience really appreciating how much they value their role as nurturers and supporters.”
In the White House
In March 2020, right when the concept of quarantine invaded everyday American life, Greer joined the Biden presidential campaign as a LGTBQ+ vote director in charge of reaching out and mobilizing the community.
“President Biden made LGTBQ+ equality a staple of his post-vice presidential career,” he says. “The team really wanted someone who could engage the community as the president built out his campaign, and he had just rolled out a really comprehensive agenda for LGBTQ+ initiatives.”
During his time with the Out for Biden initiative, Greer says the team produced 60 virtual events with a focus on LGBTQ+ voices including trans-specific events and others that highlighted communities who needed elevating in a comprehensive way. With Biden in office, his mission hasn’t changed much.
“We are working to get as close to full equality as is humanly possible. That’s our goal because it’s President Biden’s goal.”
The administration has already proven to emphasize LGBTQ+ issues. Greer cites the Bostock Executive Order, which prevents and combats discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation; a rescinding on the ban against trans military members; and enforcement of the Fair Housing Act to ensure trans and nonbinary people are admitted into housing shelters.
“Action after action, the entire administration is committed to LGBTQ+ equality, which I think is a signal that at the federal level, it’s a new day for equality. However long it takes, we’re committed to that.”
When talking about goals, Greer is pragmatic and realistic, believing time and patience are necessary when tackling large-scale structural changes. In the lead-up, he’ll keep bringing in stakeholders with different backgrounds and experiences to share their thoughts and tell their stories.
“[We aim to] bring all these folks together often to pursue a whole-government approach, and I think that’s happening,” he says. “In doing that well, you have to give it time. The president has the back of trans youth and LGBTQ+ people, and I know through the actions of so many federal agencies, you’ll see this president moving the ball forward. There’s still a lot of work left to do, but we’re here.”
To learn more about Greer, follow his official White House account on Twitter @ReggieGreer46.
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