“Being the first sucks,” says Amanda Simpson, America’s first openly transgender presidential appointee. This is true! Because now, whenever we talk about transgender men and women in history, her name will be at the top. But we’re not “in history” yet; we’re in the present. And it’s there, too, that Simpson doesn’t want to feel like the token T of the Obama administration. Which is too bad, because that’s exactly what she is.
Just like Annise Parker becoming mayor of America’s fourth largest city, Simpson too gets lumped into the trailblazers, voluntarily or not. “I’d rather not be the first but someone has to be first, or among the first,” she tells ABC News. “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.” And she’s right: Working in missile systems for 30 years, it would seem she’s quite qualified to help out at the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, where she’ll oversee the export of weapons technology, like when we send new rockets to Israel and deliver arms with Iran’s opposition leaders, hoping they don’t fall into the wrong hands.
But being labeled a “token” — as in, Obama picked her more to appease LGBT activists than because she’s qualified — is the least of Simpson’s concerns. (Nor is being the butt of David Letterman’s jokes.)
Her real worry should be with groups like MassResistance and Fox News, which have spearheaded efforts to slime other LGBT Obama appointees, including Kevin Jennings. These radical right-wing mouthpieces don’t care about the substance of your work nor your job qualifications, but about what makes you different. And we fully expect an assault on Simpson’s character, disguised as her “work ethic” or “prior missteps.”
Possible scenarios: Accusing her of “deceiving” Americans about her gender; pulling out the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell argument and calling a transgender person’s involvement in America’s arms a threat to our safety; or, as the divorced mother with a 15-year-old son, proof that she’s a bad parent and bad for American families.
Fortunately, the last thing Sean Hannity will be able to call Simpson is “weak on national security.” This is a woman who, after all, spent 30 years with a company — Raytheon Missile Systems — with a business model called “blowing shit up.”
ON THE NEXT PAGE: Amanda Simpson speaks, with transgender man C. Michael Woodward, to Political Perspectives host Cynthia Dickstein in 2008 about the challenges of being a transgender American.
I think she’s right. She’s not a token; she’s the first. You reported earlier on the administration’s directions not to discriminate against trans people. I reckon she’s not going to be the only one. And she’s more than qualified for this position, as you mentioned in this article. Calling her a token insults her qualifications.
Is it ever possible for you folks to be anything other than über-bitches to the Obama administration in spite of obvious LGBT progress? I mean for fuck’s sake, he signed a law just a few days ago finally giving Poz folks the ability to travel freely. I’m glad that he is methodologically breaking down certain walls one by one and forcing Congress to get involved to make these changes more bullet-proof. For those who want him to wave a magic wand and do everything via presidential order, be careful what you wish for. Things that are done that way can be repealed just as quickly by a less friendly administration.
Mark Snyder QueerToday
Her other concern might be that the queer community realizes she built her career upon helping weapons manufacturers profit from war.
Dame Helga von ornstein
I think I already know the answer to this question but I am going to ask it anyway to those who are regular viewers of the Fox Noise Network: Do (did) they promote any gay appointments of the previous administration? Secondly, were there any (openly)gay people at all in the previous administration?
Yes, there have been a handful of openly gay or lesbian appointees previously. I don’t know of a comprehensive list, but off the top of my head they include:
Roberta Achtenberg, Assistant Secretary of HUD appointed by Clinton. Famously called a “damn lesbian” by Jesse Helms;
James Hormel, Ambassador to Luxembourg appointed by Clinton;
Richard Grenell, spokesperson for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations appointed by Bush II.
I believe Reagan appointed a token gay man to his presidential commission on AIDS, as did Bush I, but I can’t find their names.
Well no matter what, she chose “her” name and “she” picked it right.
A Man DUH!
I hope that you are not implying that Ms Simpson is a male, thereby negating her search for mind-body concord and that search of so many other women, including some Lesbians of my acquaintance.
Because, if you are, you are concurrently embracing the medievalist viewpoints and arguments of the Roman Catholic church and the Evangelical Chruches who say that you are not gay, just a badly brought up boy who can be cured of his disease of homosexuality.
Ignorance is always ignorance, even when it comes from our own ranks
You are an asshole. I had the pleasure and privilege of being on the Tucson Commission on LGBT Issues for a short period with Amanda, and she is more of an asset and advocate for our entire LGBT community than you could ever be in a hundred of your lousy little lifetimes.
Why don’t you go back to trolling religious boards, telling people that they have to go straight or go to hell and leave upstanding, valuable members of society like Amanda Simpson alone? Fucking degenerate.
Tony Vetrano is NOT part of our ranks. Check this out, halfway down the page:
Let’s imagine the questions we’d ask if a government we didn’t like appointed someone we didn’t approve of to a high-ranking:
—Is s/he qualified for the position in terms of technical expertise and experience?
—Does her/his known “political agenda” interfere with the ability to follow the government’s policies/direction on the subject matter?
Trying to be objective, I’d have to answer that 1) Yes, she has the know-how and the background and 2) Her being Trans is irrelevant to the duties of the post. Her gender identity has no built-in prediliction to promote any “secondary agenda” concerning weapons security.
Unless there’s some other well-hidden political agenda scurrying around behind her , I’d have to say she’s a keeper. Even her background at Raytheon doesn’t necessarily rule her out. Having worked there doesn’t automatically mean she spearheaded, supported or favored all aspects of their business.
So, naysayers are going to have to engage in some pretty twisted logic to get their panties in a bunch about her ability to do the job. I don’t know anything about her, but I’d be hard pressed to think she begged for—or would need to lobby for—a job anywhere in her field, especially in the messy battleground that is Washington DC.
Really, the more fuss “they” make about her, the more desperate, petty, and foolish they look. Key words: Grasping at straws.
With friends like Queerty, Amanda doesn’t need enemies. Right in the first paragraph, in your zeal to attack Obama (as always), you explicitly state she is a token. That is the identical position to the far right, because a token implies that she isn’t qualified and is just there to pacify a constituency. Which from her background doesn’t seem to be true at all…she seems eminently qualified.
@Matthew: Thanks for pointing out the “token (il)logic.”
A quick tour of the conservative blogroll seems to show that traffic has been reduced concerning her appointment—at least for now.
Your blog is very impressive by the way. You’re a clear thinker and a good writer. Consider yourself bookmarked! ;-}
It would seem like the christian lobby group hasn’t heard of plastic surgery. Do they not think that anyone else in government has had a facelift or a tummy tuck?
Go tell them to boycot any man or woman who’s had some facial reconstruction as well!
Otherwise tell them to %&*^ Off!
Divorce mother: That’s pretty inevitable, isn’t it, for these late-in-life engineering-typ MTF autogynephiliac transexuals? They tend to be married to women who had no idea what the deal was. What woman will stay married after her husband becomes a woman? Most are humiliated by the spotlight that is cast upon them, through no action of their own.
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