In a new twist on a case that has been pitchforked into the headlines, Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced to military prison yesterday for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks has told The Today Show that he wants to live his life as a woman, Chelsea Manning. Here’s the full statement read for him on Today:
Subject: The Next Stage of My Life
I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.
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.
Chelsea E. Manning
I suspect it won’t be easy going for her to get the therapy as a federal prisoner and she faces a rockier situation than ever as a prisoner. But fact this is now an issue in the Manning saga is not surprising — and it has risen before among prisoners. Read Keith Wagstaff at The Week’s post in full.
SOME OTHER REACTION:
While many gay people embraced Bradley Manning as a “gay” hero, many others saw Manning as little more than a confused traitor who happened to, embarrassingly, be gay. The same conundrum now confronts the trans community. Do they have a hero or an embarrassment?
Either way, the trans community is getting some much-needed public discussion. Let’s hope it’s the right discussion.
UPDATE: The Army says it won’t pay Manning’s medical costs related to gender reassignment. It’s still against the rules to be trans in the military…
As to Manning’s requests:
–I haven’t the foggiest how one goes about gender reassignment while in military confinement. Surely, the taxpayer doesn’t have to foot the bill?
–I’m not sure what the protocol is in military confinement. In civilian prisons, Manning would be referred to by a prisoner number rather than a first name.
Let’s dispense with prison rape jokes in the comments section. They’re not funny
Update at 11 a.m. ET. On How NPR And Other News Outlets Are Referring To Manning:
NPR, like other news outlets, is at this point continuing to refer to the soldier as “Bradley Manning” on first reference. Manning’s name has not been legally changed. The soldier’s statement indirectly concedes that point about his legal status: “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).”
THIS IS ABSOLUTELY THE PERFECT METAPHOR FOR THE POSTMODERN LEFT:
HE STOLE NATIONAL SECURITY SECRETS AND EXPOSED THEM TO HURT THE USA AND THE WEST.
NOW – TO BE HAPPY AND FULFILLED – HE WANTS HE PENIS CUT OFF.
AND THE LEFT SEES NOTHING WRONG HERE.
No one has urged Firedoglake to go back and alter prior coverage of Manning’s case to reflect the announcement. However, I want to make it clear that Manning will continue to appear as Bradley Manning in all previously published posts and pages put together during the course of the court martial because they are historical records that represent the journalism that was being done.
Manning’s name in the legal case, as an appeal moves forward in military courts and as the request for a pardon is considered, will likely continue to be Bradley Manning. There will always be mentions and acknowledgments in posts that Manning is now Chelsea, a woman, but sometimes the name “Bradley Manning” will appear because that name is likely to be used by officials, prosecutors or lawyers.
Also, when referring to what happened prior to August 22, 2013, it will be appropriate to use the name Bradley Manning for accuracy because Manning was Bradley Manning during pretrial confinement and had even asked that he be referred to as Bradley Manning during the course of the court martial.
The main coverage page at Firedoglake will continue to use the name “Bradley Manning” as coverage relates particularly to his legal case. Any other stories on Manning, the person, or Manning, as Manning transitions to this new phase of life, will solely use Chelsea Manning.
We first wrote about this aspect of Manning’s story in 2010, after realizing that a series of chat logs circulating on the internet–which we’d published without understanding the subtle references within–spoke to Manning’s desire to transition.
We will be using the female gender to refer to Manning, from this point forward.
And he wants the taxpayers to foot the bill for his “transition” into a woman
This is a complicated prison law question which I’ve never researched, and I don’t have a position on what the right answer is. It’s easy to say prison should be stark, but medical treatments should not be withheld. The issue of who should be housed with whom is difficult, and we don’t want prisoners hurting each other. As for sexuality, is the official policy to deny all sexual expression to prisoners? If so, is that enforced across the board? If not, what should the answer be for someone who chooses/feels called to express himself/herself this way?
A CROSS SECTION OF TWEETS:
Fox takes on Chelsea Manning's "bizzare" and "confus[ing]" gender transition just the way you'd expect: http://t.co/801q9d01N1
— Equality Matters (@EQMatters) August 22, 2013
Why is it hard to believe that #manning is a trans woman but not a traitor
— andressa (@hegelexercise) August 21, 2013
The media owes Bradley Manning real support. We're all in the business of exposing secrets, together. http://t.co/6eMdHGwdKY
— Gawker (@Gawker) August 22, 2013
We should focus on Chelsea Manning's gender and not the fact that she was just sentenced to 35 years in prison for exposing US war crimes
— Duncan Idunno (@DuncanIdunno) August 22, 2013
I like when men who didn't mind torture & civilian slaughter get offended at having to refer to Bradley Manning as Chelsea.
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) August 22, 2013
UPDATE: Manning had raised this as an issue in an email titled “My problem” to a supervisor. He had included this self-portrait, which is now being used on many websites and by news organizations: