Today, 49-year-old Amanda Simpson starts her new job as senior technical adviser to the United States Commerce Department. Why the media fuss? Because Simpson is believed to be the first openly transgender presidential appointee.

While the former test pilot for Raytheon has 30 years of experience in the weapons technology industry, she said she anticipates questions like, "Is this a token? Are you here to do a job or just to fill a quota or appease other people?"

True, Obama has had a hot-and-cold relationship with the gay and transgender community. After gaining the support of gay voters in the 2008 election, he's since come under fire from gay rights groups for not acting quickly enough to protect their rights.

But this isn't Simpson's first brush with big-time politics. She acted as a delegate on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and ran for the Arizona House of Representatives in 2005. And as she pointed out in an interview with ABC News, "I've broken barriers at lots of other places and I always win people over with who I am and what I can do." We'll be watching to see how she does it.