Metro Weekly

Amanda Simpson named Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

Simpson will retain status as highest ranking transgender appointee within the Obama administration

Simpson (Photo: U.S. Department of Commerce, via Wikimedia Commons).

Simpson (Photo: U.S. Department of Commerce, via Wikimedia Commons).

Amanda Simpson on Friday was sworn in as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy, retaining her spot as the highest and most prominent transgender appointee within the Obama administration.

Since 2014, Simpson has served as the Executive Director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, where she was tasked with overseeing the Army’s various efforts to implement cost-effective, large-scale renewable energy projects. She became the first openly transgender political appointee of any administration when she was appointed to the Department of Commerce by Obama in 2009.

According to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute’s Presidential Appointments Projects, more than 200 LGBT people have been appointed to various government departments, boards or commissions in the course of Obama’s more than six-and-a-half years in office, including 12 who were appointed to the Department of Defense.

The Human Rights Campaign celebrated Simpson’s new position on the same day it celebrated the nomination of the openly gay Acting Under Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning as the president’s top pick to replace outgoing Secretary of the Army John McHugh, who is retiring.

“With her extraordinary experience and talent, there is no doubt that Deputy Assistant Secretary Simpson will excel in this important position of leadership within the Department of Defense,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “As an openly transgender American, her visibility and leadership is also incredibly important, especially as the Department moves to update the outdated regulations that continue to prevent transgender service members from serving openly and honestly. We congratulate her as she takes on this important role serving our great nation.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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