First Transgender Presidential Appointee Fears Being Labeled 'Token'
Amanda Simpson Says It Was Her Merits, Not Gender Identity, That Got Her
By RUSSELL GOLDMAN
Jan. 5, 2010
For Amanda Simpson
gender-appointee-to-commerce-department.html> , believed to be America's
first openly transgender
-minister-larger-church-rift/story?id=8706416E> presidential appointee, the
job she starts Tuesday in the U.S. Commerce Department is an honor and the
culmination of a career dedicated to understanding military technology.
President Obama recently named Amanda Simpson to be a Senior Technical
Advisor to the Commerce Department.
But what gnaws at her, she says, is the fear of being labeled a token who
was hired because of her sexual identity rather than on 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."
Simpson has been named senior technical adviser in the Commerce Department's
Bureau of Industry and Security, a job in which she will monitor the exports
of U.S. weapons technology.
She has 30 years in the industry but can't escape the feeling that some will
see her appointment as a political maneuver.
"[There will be] questions like: Is this a token? Are you here to do a job
or just to fill a quota or appease other people? In that regard it makes it
a bit more difficult," she said. "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
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