Legitimate appointment or political ploy?

January 21, 2010 — by Parul Singh and Denise Lin

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community has always been underrepresented and discriminated against, but the recent appointment of Amanda Simpson to the post of Senior Technical Advisor to the Commerce Department is definitely a step forward for the LGBT community.

Simpson was originally a male but she eventually transitioned to female in 2000.

Obama’s appointment of Simpson was originally viewed as a political move to increase his support—even Simpson herself expressed her fear of being labeled a “token.”

While many are angered by critics’ never-ending attempts to vilify and skew every position Obama fills, his decision was destined to spark criticism. Failing to promote Simpson would irk the LGBT community and lead to more requests for equal representation. Now, people question whether Obama made this move only to increase his deteriorating popularity in the gay community. Was Simpson appointed as a skilled and qualified individual, or was she hastily chosen to appease the gay and transgender population?

A similar series of accusations occurred in July 2009 when Sonia Sotomayor was appointed as the first Latina Supreme Court justice. During that time Obama was accused of trying to secure the vote of the Latino population, and many assumed that Sotomayor would always side with the minorities.

Simpson’s situation is unnervingly similar to the one Sotomayor faced upon her appointment. The public is constantly apprehensive about the fact that there may be an equally or more capable candidate who is being sidestepped because he or she is an orthodox, white and straight American..

Obama is truly striving for a more diverse administration, and as long as candidates like Sotomayor and Simpson are qualified for the position, there is no need to shove them under the microscope. In the case of Simpson, her three decades of experience in the field make her more than qualified.

Simpson was a test pilot and as of 2004, had been actively working for in the aerospace and defense industry for the past 30 years. Not to mention that she was granted a YWCA, Young Women’s Christian Association, “Woman on the Move” title. Recently, she served as Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development for Raytheon, a prominent defense and aerospace systems supplier.

However, amidst her personal successes, Simpson never has never forgotten about LGBT issues, and how much support they require; in fact, in 2005, she successfully campaigned to have Raytheon to adopt gender equality into its employment policy.

As for her personal life, Simpson is divorced with a 15-year-old son.

Sadly, individuals like Simpson have long been a target for discrimination when it comes to the workplace, and they still have a long battle ahead of them. Simpson feels that she will always be “second-guessed,” and unfortunately, this will probably be the case for quite a while. But for now, the least we can do is judge her by her achievements instead of her gender.

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