Chelsea Manning

Bradley ManningA month after she changed her name, Wikipedia still calls Chelsea Manning “Bradley Manning”.

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”.

6 thoughts on “Chelsea Manning

  1. Of course they want to make her look ridiculous – fake, which justifies their choice to ignore her (“ridiculous”) stated preference. What could be easier, than to agree with what she has made clear? As commentators to Philip Sandifer’s blog point out, why is there such a fuss about this? We can all choose to use different names and no-one gets uptight about that. George Eliot, the Bronte sisters, Elton John…..most writers, actors….Are transgender any different, in their right to express preferences and have them respected? No, of course not.

    XXX :-))


    • Chelsea Manning is less clearly a hero than Edward Snowden- the level of surveillance needed to be known, Manning may have put individuals at risk. She could change her name, but changing her pronouns is more difficult.

      We are in a state of becoming. The old view is that male and female are fixed and separate, and everyone may tell the difference, and agree about it. That she has the right to say she is female overturns the safety of this common, accepted knowledge, and replaces it with individual freedom.

      People still have to learn that this freedom need not be scary. I hear their anger and contempt and realise they just have not got it, yet.


  2. Please take down this picture, it is not of Manning. Do a bit of research, please. The news outlets use that first picture as it’s the only one they’ve been able to find. When Kristen Beck came out as TG they used nice photos of her. So plz stop casting aspersions.


    • Obi, I sympathise. You have a ridiculous handle, and you do not want to use the whole thing here.

      On Wikipedia, you are doing a vast amount of work, moderating the argument. You could moderate an article on Lynching, if the Washington Times said it was a good thing.


  3. She, she, she. If someone asks you to do, or not do something, is it respectful to follow their wishes or not? As long as the request isn’t causing threat or harm, then I am happy to go along with it. If someone presents as a woman and we have just met, I will think of her as female and speak accordingly. I live in Brighton and it isn’t uncommon to see trans women and men. I wouldn’t dream of enforcing the pronoun a person was born with on someone who needs to live as the opposite gender in order to have the life they need. If someone presents as a woman, has a female name etc, then of course that person is ‘she’ to me. I don’t care if she has had surgery, hormones etc, and quite frankly that’s not my business unless I am confided in. I don’t go around asking random people what genitlia they possess and what hormones take dominance in their body. If a person asks me to use she, her etc, then I will, irrespective of her appearance. I think that’s all I need to say….


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