Just when we get completely frustrated with President Obama’s lead-footed progress on LGBT issues, he goes and does something historic. Specifically, he appointed Amanda Simpson, a transgender woman, as a senior technical adviser to the Department of Commerce.
Simpson, who was deputy director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon, has been on the board of directors for the National Center for Transgender Equality for the past three years, so she is far from closeted about her gender identity. She is also eminently qualified — besides her experience in the aerospace and defense industry, she has degrees in physics, engineering and business administration, plus flight training that includes a stint as a test pilot.
Simpson ran (unsuccessfully) for Arizona House of Representatives and was a delegate for Hillary Clinton at last year’s Democratic National Convention.
In her official statement, Simpson had this to say:
Her one concern, however, is that she will be considered a token appointment, chosen because of her sexual identity, not her merits.
“Being the first sucks,” she told ABC News.com. “I’d rather not be the first but someone has to be first, or among the first. I think I’m experienced and very well qualified to deal with anything that might show up because I’ve broken barriers at lots of other places and I always win people over with who I am and what I can do … I’m sure I will have to do and intend to do a far superior job than any other person. But I’m sure I will always be second guessed.”
Sadly, the response from conservatives seems to confirm her fears. Monica Schleicher, spokesperson for Focus on the Family thinks that the president is trying to pay back his liberal supporters.
For a closer look at Simpson —and great insight into the transition experience — take a look at this interview from 2008.
While we wait for the White House to comment, join me in wishing Amanda the best in her new post. I can’t wait for her to prove the haters wrong – as if they would ever admit it.