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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Our new technical adviser for the Commerce Department

A friend sent the following article from DiversityInc to me:

Amanda Simpson: First Transgender Presidential Appointee
By Lizz Carroll - Jan 7, 2010

When Amanda Simpson starts her new job this week, she will make history as the first openly transgender presidential appointee to the federal government. Simpson, 49, will serve as a senior technical adviser for the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security, where she will monitor the exports of U.S. weapons technology.

In a related development this week, the Obama administration has adjusted the language on the federal jobs web site to explicitly ban employment discrimination based on gender identity. After the introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009 (ENDA), which did not include transgender people, this is a significant event in the struggle for civil rights in the LGBT community.

Simpson voiced her gratitude for her appointment in a statement, "I'm truly honored to have received this appointment and am eager and excited about this opportunity that is before me." She added, "And at the same time, as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds and that this appointment opens future opportunities for many others...."

Simpson has worked in the aerospace and defense industry for 30 years. Previous to her recent appointment, she was the deputy director at Raytheon Missile Systems. In addition to holding degrees in physics, engineering and business administration, she is a certified flight instructor and test pilot.

Simpson currently serves on the board of Out & Equal and is a former board member for the National Center for Transgender Euqality.

I understand there are people who feel so out of place in their biological gender that they feel they must make a change. I understand people like this often lead tortured lives, especially as youngsters, and I feel sympathy for them. I certainly think they should be allowed to have gender reassignment surgery and not be subsequently discriminated against.

I also applaud the open-mindedness of those who would hire them, if they're qualified.

On the other hand, I can't help but think that anyone who deals with Ms. Simpson in a professional capacity would have a hard time concentrating on whatever business was at hand. I know that if I were in the armaments business and had to deal with Simpson on some arcane technical matter, my own train of thought would run something like this:

"Oh my god, she used to be a man. She actually had her dick cut off! Yikes! That must have hurt. I guess she had anesthesia at the time. But still.....I wonder how much feeling she now has in her genitals. I know they they're supposed to take the skin from the penis and use it for the vagina, but still, I doubt she has all that much sexual feeling left. I would think an orgasm would be impossible....Hmm, I can't really see from her face that she used to be a man....I wonder if she had implants put in for her breasts....I wonder how much estrogen she has to take...Who would want to date a woman knowing she used to be a man? The poor thing, she must have led a really miserable childhood....She used to be a test pilot, too, I wonder how she fit in with those guys, they're supposed to be a pretty macho bunch....Gee, I better stop staring, she must know exactly what I'm thinking...."

Come to think of it, being transgendered could actually be an advantage. Imagine the business negotiations. While everyone else is pondering the nature of her genitals, she could be focusing on the details of the deal and on driving a harder bargain.

I try to be open-minded and even-handed on this blog. My 18-year-old son feels no such compunctions. His reaction, upon being shown the article above: "Why should we trust her to monitor the export of our weapons technology? She's already lost her own missile."


Anonymous said...

A fitting appointment by Obama. His platform was "change" after all. Loved your son's comment!

John Craig said...

Thank you. And yes, "change you can believe in." Hmm. Personally, I find some of it hard to believe.

I actually don't mind him choosing someone who's transgendered for a position like that, Simpson seems qualified enough. What bothers me is that Obama often seems to be picking them based on identity politics. Janet Napolitano, for instance, was chosen because Obama needed to round out his Cabinet with a lesbian. But Napolitano is no more qualified to be in charge of Homeland Security than I am.
(And she's proven that recently.)

Anonymous said...


Great post !! I loved Johnny's comments...allmost made me piss my pants.

Mad Dog

John Craig said...

Thank you Tom.