Chelsea Manning

Oh, what a day of getting things wrong for so many news outlets yesterday– mispronouning, misnaming, even misnaming while complaining about other people mispronouning! Here’s one story with the right priorities: the awful fact that Chelsea Manning is going to a men’s prison, where she will be denied hormone treatment, and face a heightened risk of sexual assault. (Thanks, R!)

8 thoughts on “Chelsea Manning

  1. I would say it’s premature to say that Private Manning (how convenient that these military ranks are gender-neutral) will be denied hormone treatment. Time will tell.
    Also, when you say “heightened risk of sexual assault”, I wonder heightened compared with what? Compared with sitting at home? Of course. Compared with a civilian prison? I am not so sure.

  2. From my perspective, I saw a day when people all over the internet, from Gawker to Motherboard, to Janet Mock, to (now Free Chelsea Manning), WikiPedia, to a vigil in Berlin outside the US Embassy, to thousands of comments everywhere were overwhelmingly getting it right without hesitation, and were incredibly supportive and positive, overjoyed even, about this news. Yes, there’s still a bunch of assholes – right wingers, conservatives and ‘feminists’ – but increasingly they look like comical Flat Earthers, and they’re getting hammered for it. And this massive change in public opinion has only really happened in the last few years; the Tumblr, 4Chan, Anonymous years.

  3. Andreas, you may be right. A civilian criminal defense lawyer who used to be an Army JAG attorney told me that, at least in the US, the incidence of violence (including sexual assaults) among the inmate population at military correctional facility is considerably lower than at a comparable civilian facility – though I don’t have it on any stronger authority than that.

  4. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize the military justice establishment for sending Manning to a men’s prison. The mere fact of stating a gender preference is, correctly, regarded as insufficient to establish one as that gender. Just stating that one is a female, or believing it, does not make it so. Prison officials obviously cannot have a situation in which men can simply claim to be women in order to do their time at a women’s prison.

    Now with Manning, she has been constrained in establishing her gender identity by virtue of her military service and subsequent incarceration, so the situation is more complicated. Like Andreas, I’m not sure that hormone therapy will be permanently denied to her.

    I’m fine with referring to Manning using female pronouns and whatnot, but the idea that people who do not are “assholes” is ridiculous. No one is obliged to honor the language preferences of another person, especially when that person is a convicted felon.

    The thing that makes me most upset about the Manning case is that I think it’s a large step backwards for LGBT rights. We need public transsexuals to be strong and noble (see, not weak and traitorous. Manning is an unattractive figure for many reasons, not least her moral character, and I fear that the public will reach a natural, although false, conclusion: Those are all just a bunch of crazy people.

  5. I’m having a lot of trouble expressing myself in a way that doesn’t violate the “be nice” rule, but I’m really bothered by some of the comments here. I generally consider FP to be a safe exception to my “never read the comments” rule, and so it’s upsetting to see comments like this here.

    I’m just going to go through the points that LogicFan and Andreas Moser go through and try to respond in a non-rage-y way.
    (1) “I’m not sure the military really will deny her hormones” – Yeah, you can doubt this, but clearly what is mean both in the original post here and the articles where this is mentioned is –if the military does what it says it does in these situations– then –barring some legal action to FORCE the military to change their course of action– she’s not getting her hormones. You are correct that it’s *possible* they could change their minds, but that’s not likely to happen without some sort of lawsuit.
    (2) LogicFan writes “Just stating that one is female, or believing it, does not make it so” – Look, nobody thinks its a conceptual impossibility for an utterance of “I am female” to be false. As for the “believing”? If you mean by “believe it” to genuinely self-identify as female then YES IT F***CKING DOES. THAT IS LITERALLY WHAT GENDERS ARE! You might think they are something else (having to do with genitals or gender presentation or something) but you are mistaken and also harboring majorly transphobic beliefs.
    (3) LogicFan thinks that the assholes misgendering and misnaming Chelsea Manning aren’t assholes — Yes they are. These aren’t “language preferences” they are the correct pronouns to use for someone of her gender. To not use her correct pronouns this is to ridicule her and genuinely harm her and the trans community at large (insofar as this reflects and disseminates a lack of respect for trans people’s humanity).
    (4) As for the bit about this being a “step backwards” for (LGB)T rights — Whaat?! Chelsea Manning is a heroic figure. I am immensely, blindingly proud that one of the most important and influential whistleblowers in US history is a trans woman. Knowing that she is who she is and that she did what she allegedly did makes my chest puff up in a really cliche way. I am immensely sad that she’s imprisoned for the great service she did the American people and the world, but I don’t think that does anything to tarnish her position as a role model. (Also, that woman you linked who’s a Navy SEAL? I can’t seem to find anything noble about her. Certainly being a Navy SEAL doesn’t mean anything except that she’s done some bad things for an imperialist military organization.)

    This is all I can say before I get mean, so I’m going to stop.

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