By Erin Gloria Ryan
Aug 22, 2013
This morning's big news story/pounding headache is courtesy of convicted spy Bradley Manning's announcement that she wishes to live the rest of her life as a woman/the internet's predictably shitty response to that announcement, respectively.
First, the news: Manning announced today via a letter to the Today Show that she wishes to begin hormone therapy and live the rest of her life as Chelsea Manning. Here's her statement, in part, courtesy of the Guardian,
As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.
During her trial, Manning's defense team claimed that she had suffered from "gender identity disorder" throughout most of her life; her decision to undergo hormone therapy shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who was paying attention. And no matter what your stance on Manning's role in leaking documents, it's hard to argue with the fact that the timing of her transition — right before entering a men's prison to serve a 35-year sentence — puts Manning in the lines of some pretty harrowing and unconscionable scenarios.
Of course — OF COURSE — Manning's announcement was met with general idiotic fuckery from exactly the sort of people who have made it a part of their personal brand. And like most general idiotic fuckery, it was predictable and easy to categorize. It's too early for me to feel so pessimistic about other human beings' capacity for compassion and empathy, but here we go.
In her statement, Manning indicated that she wished to be referred to using female pronouns from now on. Using the wrong pronoun for a trans person is considered exceptionally shitty, and a violation of that person's identity.
That didn't stop CNN, The Dallas News, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, USA Today, Politico, etc etc etc etc etc from using sentences like "He would like to be referred to by female pronouns" or CNN's charming "Bradley Manning says he wants to live as a woman, called Chelsea." Cool, guys.
2. To be trans is to be mentally ill
EXTREE EXTREE: Erick Erickson being a potato faced dick!
3. I DONT WANNA PAY FOR MANNING'S SURGERY I AM THE ONLY TAXPAYER.
To be fair, I didn't really want to pay for the war in Iraq. Or the war in Afghanistan. Or Dick Cheney's 11 fresh hearts. And all of those things probably cost more than the gender reassignment surgery that the US Military doesn't even provide its soldiers. So slow your roll, sudden fiscal conservatives.
4. Bradley Womanning
The fact that this joke has been made approximately 129348192371237 times today has not deterred people from continuing to make it. Nor has it made it any funnier.
5. Transsexuality is ridiculous
6. Manning wants to go to a fancy women's prison
He must have gotten the idea from Orange is the New Black, says every hack topical Twitter comedian.
7. THANKS OBAMA
This one is just kind of inscrutable.
If you need guidance on how to write about trans issues with compassion and tact, here's a good guide. In the meantime, don't read any comments on anything today. Trust me on this.
Films For Action Editor's Note: Considering how intolerant much of our society is to diversity, the above reactions aren't surprising. Let's hope that this news can possibly be used to advance more compassionate and evolved understandings towards different ways to being.
In our dream world, public knowledge of someone's gender identity wouldn't be news at all, but would be something lovingly accepted as a non-event.
What remains news, and continues to be the main substance of Manning's story - is the crimes that she revealed, and the fact that the people who should be in jail for those crimes remain free.
The below video pretty much sums up the news frame we'd love to see promoted in the national discourse: