Of famous trans women (apart from the murder victims) Chelsea Manning is the most vulnerable: more vulnerable, even, than most trans women starting transition. She may be unable, in prison, to get medical treatment to transition, and may not be able to express herself female; but she is female, and should be called by her real name. She should also be referred to as “she” when discussing her activities when presenting male. This is mere courtesy.
Two groups would prefer to refuse her this courtesy: those who claim to be “feminists”, but deny the femaleness of trans women, and some extreme right-wingers, who deny all the scientific research, and experience of trans women, to call us men. Partly it depends on whether you see her as a hero (I do) or a traitor.
The Washington Times is one of the latter: it has truly dreadful syntax. “Vaulted” would be incorrect even as “vaunted”. The political correctness in journalism has hit an all-time low… The wish to be called a woman is a psychiatric problem, not a physical one. Sad that people are so ignorant.
Time magazine noted last month that “Chelsea” is far more common in the media now. Even Fox News uses she: that is why I wrote “some” extreme right wingers. Though I am shocked that the BBC website still has an article referring to her as “Bradley” and “he”.
And CNN’s policy is to reference Manning with masculine pronouns since he has not yet taken any steps toward gender transition through surgery or hormone replacement therapy. That is precisely the point. She cannot, now, take oestrogen. So, because the US army disrespects her, CNN feels free to do so too.
What of Wikipedia? The trans-bashers have come out of the closet, demanding that Chelsea Elizabeth Manning be referred to as “Bradley”, “It is not 1984 and we should not engage wp in doublethink” says Arzel, arguing for the oppressive use of the word “he”. Philip Sandifer gives an excellent summary of the wikipedia proceedings, though some may find it too technical. His explanation of hate speech is beautiful:
There is something that you never, ever do to a transgender person: use their birth name. The reason here is simple – to call a transgender person by their birth name is to deny them the basic right to their identity. It is to claim for yourself the right to dictate who they are, over their own express wishes. It is to tell them that their transition is invalid – that they deserve instead to suffer from the genuine and real pain of gender dysphoria, and that this is preferable to ever allowing them to think that they might have the right to define for themselves the basic aspects of who they are. It is hate speech, plain and simple, as straightforwardly as using the worst racial or sexual slur you can think of.
Now the discussion has moved to a Request for Comment on the use of pronouns. Some people are advocating that I should be referred to as “he”.