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Amanda Simpson, the first openly transgender woman political appointee in federal history, was born in Chicago on this date in 1961. She was appointed by President Obama to the Department of Commerce in 2010 and became a deputy assistant secretary of defense the following year. She now serves as executive director of the Army Office of Energy initiative, which seeks to “green” the Pentagon’s energy use. A pilot since 1981, Simpson has worked on military and aerospace projects throughout her professional life and has test-flown more than sixty different kinds of planes. She transitioned from male to female in the 1980s and became active in the transgender rights movement, sitting on the boards of several organizations. She has also been active in Democratic Party politics and city government in Arizona. “So many people get caught up in the noise of, ‘Gee, you don’t look like me and you don’t have the same background or experience as me,’ ” she told the Arizona Daily Star. “They don’t realize that’s what makes this country great.”
“If I’m talking to a twenty-something or even someone in their teens, I’d say it looks immensely difficult to break out of the path that society, your parents, your teachers, your mentors have defined for you. But, try... Try to do something different.” —Amanda Simpson