Day One For Obama's Transgender Technologist - InformationWeek

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1/5/2010
05:21 PM
John Foley
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Day One For Obama's Transgender Technologist

Amanda Simpson--formerly a test pilot, and formerly a man--started her new job today as senior technical advisor with the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security, which plays a key role in national security and cybersecurity. Unfortunately, most of the talk so far has been about Simpson's sex change, not her career change.

Amanda Simpson--formerly a test pilot, and formerly a man--started her new job today as senior technical advisor with the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security, which plays a key role in national security and cybersecurity. Unfortunately, most of the talk so far has been about Simpson's sex change, not her career change.Simpson brings an impressive background to her new job in government, most recently serving as deputy director in advanced technology development with Raytheon Missile Systems. In addition to being an accomplished test pilot, Simpson has degrees in physics, engineering, and business administration. That's according to the National Center for Transgender Equality, on whose board Simpson has served for the past three years.

The former Mitchell Simpson underwent a sex change about a decade ago, according to reports. A few years later, in 2004, Amanda Simpson made a failed bid as a Democrat for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives.

Simpson was appointed to the Commerce position as senior technical advisor by President Obama, according to the NCTE, though the White House itself apparently hasn't announced the appointment. That lack of official word from the Obama Administration or Department of Commerce has left an information void that has been filled, not surprisingly, by much discussion about the transgender angle, but almost nothing about what it means for national security.

What exactly will Simpson do at Commerce? A Department of Commerce spokeswoman confirmed that Simpson started working there today, but didn't respond to a question about the nature of Simpson's responsibilities. ABC News reports vaguely that Simpson will "monitor the exports of U.S. weapons technology." The Huffington Post says the job will also involve "press and media liaison work."

It's a missed opportunity for the White House, the Department of Commerce, and even the National Center for Transgender Equality to say so little about the key role that Simpson has been chosen to fill. The Bureau of Industry and Security is the federal agency that monitors the export of technologies that could potentially be used by terrorists or rogue regimes to create weapons of mass destruction. Let's hear more about how Simpson, with years of experience in aerospace and defense, will use her technical know-how to advance that mission.

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