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Cybersecurity Appointee Makes History

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By Gautham Nagesh January 6, 2010

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Since his campaign President Obama has repeatedly emphasized how he wants to attract a more diverse group of Americans into public service. Yesterday he advanced that goal by appointing Amanda Simpson to be senior technical advisor to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security. Amanda Simpson, formerly a test pilot known as Mitchell Simpson, is the first openly-transgendered presidential appointee in history.

From the New York Daily News:

"As one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds," Simpson said in a statement.

Simpson, 49, underwent a sex change about a decade ago while working in Tuscon for Raytheon Missile Systems, where she rose to the job of deputy director.

President Obama named Simpson to the Commerce post.

It is not certain whether she is the first transgendered presidential appointee, but she appears to be the most prominent.

In 2004, Simpson became the first openly transgendered candidate to win a primary election in the U.S. in a bid for the Arizona state legislature.

A Democrat, she lost in the general election.

Simpson however, is not so keen to be the trend-setter in this area:

"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."

While it certainly can't be easy to take on a high-pressure job with these types of distractions, it does seem like Simpson is well-suited for the role. Just by accepting the position and discussing her sexual identity with the media, Simpson is providing hope to countless transgendered people across the nation who may also aspire to serve their country at some point in the future. That's a noble goal for any American, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

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