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Thoughts On Chelsea Manning’s Coming Out

I have some thoughts on how Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s gender dysphoria was rolled out.

Let me begin by saying I’m going to give, and I’m going to advocate for, respect for Manning’s chosen name and publicly embraced gender, and I’m going to use female pronouns and call her Chelsea. That; however, comes with a mixed bag of emotions.

Image: Chelsea ManningI’m going to respect Chelsea’s public request in part because of the Biblical teaching I learned as Pentecostal youth that I still embrace today: treat others as I want to be treated.

But as I respect her name and identified gender, I’m cognizant that Chelsea didn’t respect the trans community — the trans community of which I am a part — in how she came out.

I don’t know off the top of my head what the Army’s core values are. I suppose I could look those up, but the Army’s core values are not how I’m thinking about Chelsea Manning’s public life as her one public day as a trans woman and as a part of my military family. The core values I learned as a US Navy sailor — the ones I’m filtering her public behavior through — are honor, courage, and commitment.

One could make the argument that Chelsea Manning showed courage in releasing documents that opened up government. We Americans learned some a lot about the drone program that’s being done in the American people’s name that should have been made public by the Obama Administration.

But that said, she didn’t have sufficient time to route through all of the 700,000 documents she released via Wikileaks.

It can be said that there is honor in targeted release of specific documents, but my opinion is that there was not a lot of honor found in the mass dump of documents that Chelsea released without personally. Basically, she didn’t really know if any of the documents she released without reviewing would be harmful to her peers serving in Afghanistan. With those thoughts in mind, I personally see Chelsea as recklessly engaging in both heroic and criminal actions. Her apology to the court acknowledged her failing to fully take into account the consequences of her actions before handing those 700,000 documents to Wikileaks:

First, your honor I want to start off with an apology. I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I’m sorry that I hurt the United States.

At the time of my decisions, as you know, I was dealing with a lot of issues, issues that are ongoing and continuing to effect me. Although a considerable difficulty in my life, these issues are not an excuse for my actions.

I understood what I was doing, and decisions I made. However I did not fully appreciate the broader effects of my actions.

In a manner similar to how Chelsea didn’t consider the broader effects of her actions in her release of classified information, there seems to me to be a parallel lack of consideration for the broader effects of her actions to the trans subcommunity of the LGBT community in how she came out…a parallel lack of respect for others whose lives she didn’t consider.

As I read Chelsea’s announcement, I was struck that the thrust of her statement was about her wants and needs, and that there was no mention or consideration of the impact of her statement on other trans people. For example, Chelsea mad her announcement without warning to LGB and especially T community leaders even as she put LGBT community leaders the in the position of defending her gender identity. What she did was put the responsibility of defending her chosen name and preferred pronouns on LGBT non-profits and trans community activists who weren’t fully aware of if, when, or how she was going to publicly announce she has a female gender identity.

To me, it’s notable that Chelsea made her announcement that she was a woman without publicly using the terms trans, trans*, transgender, or transsexual to describe herself, or acknowledge she was part of a community that were going to be defending her gender identity.

The timing of her announcement has the feel to me as the B.Scott and the Kristen Beck announcements. The timing was, or felt to many in trans community, to be self-serving. All three of their announcements addressed their needs, but not how these announcements would affect their trans community peers. I feel that two of these folk (B. Scott and Chelsea Manning) came out in a way that helped their legal situations, but then brought to trans community members’ gender identities, gender expressions, and transitions into question to broader society, as well as subjecting trans identities to ridicule.

There is no honor in harming the community to which you are entering.

And, there is no honor is announcing the new name Chelsea wishes to be addressed by and her gender identity without considering how the timing of her announcement may impact efforts for open military service for trans people in the service.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I see a pattern of behavior where she doesn’t consider the consequences of her actions…to include the impact her behavior has had and is having on others.

Very specifically regarding her trans siblings serving in silence in the military services, Chelsea is harming the effort towards open military service by trans servicemembers. She is doing this by being a poster child for the meme that trans people are pathological and can’t appropriately serve in the military services with honor and distinction.

And, of course, there is the courage and commitment thing. Prior to being arrested, she reached out for help to her immediate supervisor, essentially outing herself as trans with the “My Problem” email and inclusion of a photo of her presenting as female. Courage and commitment to further identify as trans to the Army with intent to receive treatment for her gender dysphoria and a discharge could have included going to the next and the next and the next supervisor in her chain of command, or could have included contacting a military psychologist or psychiatrist — contacting anyone with the power to help her until someone in the Army acted or what she described as her problem. (I do believe there was a failure of leadership by her immediate supervisor for not passing on the information up the chain of command when it was a clear call for help, but that’s another issue.) It seems to me that she demonstrated a lack of courage and commitment in how she reached out for help…from the military and discharged from to be treated and discharged by the Army for what was then referred to under DSM-IV TR as gender identity disorder.

Could Chelsea have changed her name to Breanna or Chelsea while she was in service? Others I know in the service have changed their names on their way out of the service — it would have been another way to demonstrate commitment to addressing her gender dysphoria. Not knowing her deployment schedule; however, I’m not sure that option was available to her between her deployment schedule and when she figured out she had a female gender identity, but if she had changed her legal name to Breanna or Chelsea though, it would have been a sign of courage and commitment to being female when she first knew she was female back in 2010.

I will respect Chelsea’s desire to be called Chelsea and be referred to by female pronouns — this is per the Associated Press Styleguide and the GLAAD Media Reference Guide. I will slam journalists hard who don’t conform to those standards, and behind the scenes with some I already have..

But if any think I appreciate the manner in which Chelsea came out in acting with a sense of entitlement regarding her change of name and public gender, in addressing her own wants and needs in her coming out while showing disrespect for trans community that is now in the position of defending her, and in the harm to trans servicemembers who are right now honorably serving in silence by making trans service look completely incompatible with military service, that would be incorrect.

I don’t see respect, honor, courage, and commitment in her behavior to date. I see a pattern of behavior where she doesn’t consider the consequences of her actions…the impact that her behavior has on others.

I will forcefully respect her public desire to be called Chelsea and her public desire to be referred to with female pronouns. I will defend her in that to my last breath, were that required. But, that’s pretty much only because I treat others the way I want others to my trans peers and treat me…because I go to bat for my peers in trans community in the same way I want others to go to bat for my trans peers and me. It’s not at all because I have great respect at this point in time for Chelsea herself. Basically I’m standing behind trans community as a whole rather than standing behind Chelsea as an individual.

Chelsea, as a sibling in both military and trans community, hasn’t earned my respect.

  • Chelsea Mannings actions were not those of a non-conformist. They were those of a young person who could not justify the murder of journalists and the resulting coverup. I’m a member of two communites or groups that she was. I’m a woman of trans history AND i am a hactivist/transparency activist. In my world she reflects well on me both ways and i am proud to claim her as a fellow trans person and transparency activist.

    The fact that Chelsea Manning has no respect for the status quo is true. Lets take a look at the status quo. Our soldiers are being asked to kill or be killed to support a crumbling empire that has no ethical justification. It’s horrible that our soldiers, navy and marines are being asked to do this. I have a great love for our millitary people not because i am patriotic but because of endless positive experiences – particularly with Marines.

    In the end it is not trans people that are responsible for these many leaks but young people who will inherit this world from us oldsters. It is their world to remake. People like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Jacob Appelbaum make me hopeful. My generation makes me feel despondent.

  • Before I get to Ms. Manning – we – as in all of us – not being “non conformists” (whatever that is) – we as a community are just like every community – made up of every kind of person. So yes – many of us are – many of us are not – many of us don’t ally anyway with the term. Please just speak for yourself.

    Beyond the many reports of Ms. Manning being trans well over three years ago – the day before she announced her name – it was the Army who formally outed her to the Courthouse News Service as trans and released the picture that accompanies this article. This was while her sentence was being determined.

    So – yes – she really did have to say something. But – even if she didn’t due to the Army’s actions during her sentencing hearing – it’s her choice when to come out. Even if if ruffles some peoples feathers and makes them feel as if they must clutch their pearls.

    And for all the dire predictions – even now – just a few days out – it’s yesterdays news. No Dr’s seems to have turned away any patients. And it’ll fade even more as time goes on. And on the other side – even though those in the military have a hard time understanding this – the many, many people who were supporting her – now have a trans person as a hero. And over 50% of the country feel that what she and Snowden exposed was important.

    Factor that in as well.

  • I knew Manning was trans 3 years before the big coming out drama. Those of us
    who watched the case knew that. GID was always a big part of the case. The only thing we did not know was her chosen name – she had been going as Breanna. Now we know her name is Chelsea.

    This really is no surprise. The only surprise i have had is the bad reaction of many in the trans community.

  • I am 100% in support of this piece Autumn Sandeen. If Chelsea cared and was mature she would not have come-out like she did. Announcing she was trans in my opinion dissed a whole community. I was also a Navy Sailor and I also upheld the Honor Courage and Commitment end when I enlisted and served honorably. I did NOT steal nor did I conspire against my own Country. And additionally I don’t want to be asscoaited with the likes of Chelsea Manning. She should have kept her gender identity a secret, until like maybe 10 years down the road. Her impact on the Trans community is “the shot heard around the world.” Now employers, Doctors and the like will think all Trans folk are thieves and have no respect for the status quo, or their Country. A country that allows us to be ourselves. We all are NOT non-conformists like Chelsea Manning, and the message she sent HAS harmed the TG community as a whole.

    • So *everything* about your transition was completely perfect, right? Often the announcement that one is trans happens after some major life event, so it is not too unusual she did it when she did.

      Did you notice that “should have kept her gender identity a secret” is what non-trans peeps tend to say when they want us to just dissapear?

  • I am very disappointed Autumn in how short sighted your comments are.

    1)It is not up to you to judge her. She has had her trial !
    2) The judge in her case automatically removed over 100 days that represent the amount of time she lived under torture conditions before she was even tried. You understand why don’t you ?
    3) It was proved that she did NOTHING to aid the enemy or hurt our troops.
    4) The people she released documents to did what Chealsea could not, vet the entire mass of the release before it was ever made public to ensure that no one was hurt. And they did.
    5)I personally am terribly proud that she did what she did. As a person first, then as a TS.

    This person is doing her time and so there is no more to extract in punishment. When she emerged white as a sheet from compete isolation I could tell what they had done to her. She should be welcomed and friended by our community. We should be the last to judge and the first with open arms. Gender her properly out of self respect, not because she asked you.

  • Autumn, let me help you out a little bit.

    1. Chelsea was diagnosed professionally with GID in 2009.
    2. Chelsea maintained an active female persona before entering the military and during her time in the military.
    3. Chelsea’s trans status has been known for a few years to lots of people (myself included) and I didn’t have to look for it too hard.
    4. Chelsea’s attorneys downplayed her trans status during the trial because they didn’t want that added “other” effect to be used to further dehumanize her.

    So she didn’t just now come out. Let’s set that error aside and not make judgments based upon that error, ok? And she’s been totally isolated for the last several years and was not deeply into the trans community before that. So how was she supposed to know just exactly how to come out to the entire world?

    She is being punished for a crime that many people are going to debate whether it even was a crime and about the length of the sentence. That’s fine. I fully expect that debate.

    But let’s not crucify her as well for minor details about how a trans woman held in solitary confinement for the last few years, often forced to stand naked for hours at a time at attention in front of Marines who tormented her verbally (all entered as evidence at trial) was going to be in any mental condition to make a “perfect” coming out to the entire world.

  • This article was terrible.

  • Autumn – if you don’t respect Chelsea as a person. Save your paper.

  • Did Miss Manning EVER say she was transgender or transexual in her declaration ? She simply said she wants to live the rest of her life as a woman. Did she every say she was part of the trans community ?

    After the show that You, Kristin Beck and Andrea James have put on i would not blame her if she walked away forever.

    As a member of the hacktivist communty, i claim miss manning. You may vent your venom at me and forget about her. I can defend myself online. She cannot.
    Convenient target.

    I never joined the millitary because at Mannings age i was very very anti-war and i was angry. I had the foresight to know i would probably get in a LOT of trouble in the millitary (Translate this to – i was not the nice idealistic and respectful woman that manning was – i was an strident activist against war and all the concomitant horrors – i was more blunt and harsh than i am now).

    What would you have done if you found out that iraquis were being tortured ? Would you have kept silent ? Would you have reported it ? If your command ignored you what would you have done ? Would you remain complicit ? A vow of secrecy does not supercede human rights.

    Since you are an admirer of MLK i will remind you that MLK was a very strong opponent of war and mistreatment of people like happens in any war. If you want to claim MLK i think you should consider this.

  • It’s wrong because – hell – it’s rather self absorbed – and this isn’t your dear diary and firedoglake isn’t talking to the community either. You’re posting here not in a community support setting but as an author and presenting yourself as an authority.

    It’s wrong because everything isn’t about you and how tough it is for you. Tough – – go to prison for 35 years. Be tortured.

    This is also why you call some friends or go have a drink with them. That’s why you go to a support group. You don’t do group work in public.

    And if the interviews are too much – pass them along to people who get paid to do them. But – I think you really do want to do them. And you want to complain.

    There’s nothing wrong with Autumn asking her friends that question.

    There’s everything wrong with Autumn the leader asking the world and modeling for the world that our transitions are subject to public approval and discussion.

    How much better it would be if you thought about that.

  • Could Chelsea have done things better? Yes … but there really IS no good way or time to announce the start of transition. Doing it at the start of a major life event may be called ‘convenient’ but typically it happens at some crisis which then makes you look at what you really want to do.

  • Did she come out perfectly? No.
    Is it possible to see her reasoning, especially by trans people? Yes.
    Can we have debates within the community about it? Yes.

    For example, Obama is speaking from the Lincoln memorial on the anniversary of the march on Washington. I am sure simmilar debates about that by some in the african american community but they present a united message to everyone else.

    What I REALLY have a problem with is when people in the trans community badmouth her to the cis media. Myself and another trans person are currently trying to defend her decision and the ability to get hrt on one forum … statements lambasting her by trans people do not help matters.

    [Maybe those last two paras should be swapped in order but I have a sprained wrist right now so cut/paste is, well.]

  • Pingback: Know When To Hold ‘Em And Know When To Fold ‘Em; Or, Sometimes I Just Gotta Know When The Game’s Past My Ability to Argue It. | To A T()

  • Other than grudgingly advocating the most basic respect for Chelsea Manning i have to say that this article is the polar opposite of my feelings on the matter.

    I am not here to defend a fellow trans person. I am here to defend a fellow human rights activist, hactivist and information freedom activist. This is the community i share with Manning.

    The state is not my god or higher power. I do not draw my sense of right and wrong from whatever comes out of the NSA, CIA, Court or the White House. I find these organizations to be almost entirely ethically compromised so i do not fall for the facile propaganda like this piece condemming people like John Kirakou, Bill Binney, Sibel Edmunds, Chelsea Manning, Snowden or others.

    I hope i can make a bit of a clarion call to wake those who worship the false idol of jingoism to come to their senses and start advocating for human rights instead.

  • Autumn Sandeen, you write that Chelsea Manning came out in a way that helped her legal situation. Please elaborate on that. I’ve followed the case closely and am frankly clueless how coming out as trans helps Manning legally.

    • It doesn’t help her in her previous court case and sentencing. How it helps her going forward in the upcoming legal case regarding transition related hormones is that the ACLU, NCTE, , the Transgender Law Center, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, as well as the major LGBT legal non-profits coming out in support for her case prior to her request being formally made for hormones, let alone a court filing for this.

      It’s not that they wouldn’t have done so anyway, but they wouldn’t do it as publicly at this point in time if Chelsea and her legal team hadn’t made her transition and her transition request for hormones so public so soon after the end of her previous trial and sentencing.

      • So how it helps her is that they would have helped her if she requested help next week, but they’re helping her louder today.

        And, even though she has no attorney and no case is filed – and we kinda all know it would be just about as noisy next week – somehow – it was an genius move on her part to do this right then because…… louder. Absolutely no way it could be worse for her then waiting two months and trying to let things cool down a bit because….louder?

        All right then.

        Alternately, she’s a stressed out kid who’s been repressing this for what feels like eons and has been telling herself she’s not going to hide anymore and what the hell does it matter if she’s going to prison for what seems like the rest of her life anyway.

        But – maybe it was 11 dimensional chess and louder. Most kids in her situation – strike that – there are none.

  • Autumn,

    I tend to place a lot of faith in the judgment of ex-military people, even though I have no personal military service, because of the honor and ethics that tends to be inculcated. It’s also worth bearing in mind that in the military these values are purposefully skewed to encourage individuals to sacrifice for the betterment of the group.

    I would also like to mention early how much respect I have for you individually.

    Frankly, I have not spent my time becoming an expert on this case. It was clear from day one what the end result would be. If anything, things have turned out better for Chelsea than I expected. Personally, from the knowledge I have, the biggest problem I have with her behavior is as you described. She dumped a lot of unviewed documents into the public. Some that she knew demonstrated inappropriate or even criminal behavior that was being covered up. Unfortunately there were some for which she apparently had no idea what the ultimate effect would be. As she had “promised” to respect the secrecy of this data, massive dumps of irrelevant, unnecessary or possibly even harmful information would appear on the face of it inappropriate.

    However if the unviewed documents had been found to demonstrate even bigger crimes, how would you have felt about it? It was already past the stages of abuses being theoretical and into the stage of finding out just how bad things were. What if even worse things had been uncovered? How does your opinion change if continued review of those documents uncovered something even worse tomorrow?

    Shouldn’t honor also mean that people own up to their own failings? Seeing their own people being outed as violating honor, ethics and laws, shouldn’t the military “man” up and admit to their failings rather than target the people who expose a system which was/is failing to police itself?

    There has been public discussion of Chelsea being, at least potentially, trans for some time. Why are people acting as if this is some surprise now? How can organizations not have had time to prepare when there have been extended public discussions on the subject? Does every individual trans person owe it to the community and to community organizations to ensure their decisions are acceptable and timed appropriately for others? Or just the ones we don’t like?

    Individuals do not have to live their lives in a way that satisfies their community as acceptable behavior. That is literally the fight the trans community is having with the cis community.

    If people try to use Chelsea as a weapon against the community, that is transphobic stereotyping. And that would be a transphobic decision on their part, for which they are responsible. And hey guess what, living a lie can be stressful. That’s not a result of being trans. That’s a result of transphobic pressure to conform. It’s worth noting that most trans people deal with this, for however long they have to deal with it, in a way that does no harm to others. The high suicide rates however speak strongly to just how stressful society has chosen to make being gender non-conforming.

    These sorts of things are going to happen to an oppressed minority group one way or another. This is part of the reason we have community leaders. So that we have reasonable, articulate people who can explain reality to those who are having trouble fitting the pieces together. This is the job they took when they asked to be leaders.

    And this is in part why we, who do not have leadership roles, respect those who do.

    • I agree with most of what you’ve put forward here. Yes, the military and its civilian leadership has failed America and failed trans people — in so many ways.

      But multiple things can be true at the same time. In this case, military and its civilian leadership have, and are failing us, but it’s true Chelsea Manning also failed in how she did her duty. She did much good with the classified material she released that in my opinion, as well as in the opinions of many others, but she also recklessly released thousands of documents she never reviewed — any number of which could have harmed her peer soldiers. That what she did didn’t aid the enemy and cause harm to her peer soldiers had much, much more to do with luck than intent to be targeted in her release of classified information.

      And, now I believe she harmed her trans peers who are serving in silence in the timing and manner in which she came out. As I’ve said, she’s connected trans servicemembers publicly in using as a gender dysphoria as mitigating factor for her actions — actions that many consider, including me, to be reckless and criminal.

      I can separate Chelsea’s service, in which I sea criminal behavior (if only in her first pleading guilty to 10 charges before the trial began) from the needs of Chelsea during her years of incarceration. She definitely deserves, under 8th Amendment protections, appropriate mental health and medical treatment while she’s incarceration, and that includes at a minimum administration of hormones. I can separate Chelsea’s need for appropriate treatment while she is being incarcerated from the manner in which she came out and the manner in which she’s harming the trans servicemembers serving in silence.

      This isn’t an either/or situation. All of these things can be said to be true at the same time.

      • Autumn,

        Thanks for replying.

        Yes, the proper response to complex a situation is typically nuanced.

        Personally, I feel less of a need to have individual trans people properly support the community than I fear the possible abuses than can develop when a community demands conformity from it’s members.

        I do feel that obtaining open service for trans people is an important goal. Historically, military service has been an important step in civil rights campaigns. Many people outside the trans community appear to have already forgotten that this is still supposed to be an LGBT community goal.

        While I do expect to see, and have already seen, some people try to use these events to justify discrimination, I actually have faith that most people understand that communities are not defined by individuals. My expectation, though obviously less informed than yours, is that in the long run Chelsea will be a non-issue in discussions of trans service.

        Actually, I’m beginning to suspect to this will be a net gain as the discussions continue to bring more light onto trans related subjects.

        As to her defense, I write that up to a lawyer who is ethically obliged to offer up any defense which might help his client (though I certainly understand others seeing it differently). A lawyer who didn’t present possibly mitigating evidence could be viewed as failing ethically. That being the case, I personally prefer to suspend judgments regarding other possible interpretations. Could it make for some awkward conversations that we as a community might prefer not to have? I guess it could. But ultimately again I think it will result in a net gain as cis people actually learn about trans people, and trans people develop better explanations.

        Don’t get me wrong I am trepidatious that in the short term, this could be used against some current service members. As things stand, almost anything could unfortunately.

        I just think I see our way forward as not backing down. Not apologizing. Just standing up for her and our rights. Not angrily, just not apologetically. One thing I think might need to be clarified outside the community is that not all trans people suddenly see her as an idol (that seems to be something some people are wanting to put forward). Just that even those of us who don’t agree with all her decisions, support her rights the same as anyone else’s.

  • Dear Autumn,

    While I couldn’t disagree more with your viewpoint, I want to thank you for writing a thoughtful sincere article about why you don’t respect Chelsea Manning. Though in my opinion Manning is a hero, I am really wanting to hear and understand trans service members perspectives. I’ve been very frustrated that several of these perspectives have come with a deliberate and vindictive misgendering of Chelsea Manning, most visibly Kristin Beck’s — — that I find straight up offensive. Even if I don’t agree with your viewpoint, I really appreciate all the points you make, which you’ve clearly put some thought into, and that you’ve taken a time to draw a boundary between critiquing what Chelsea did and how she did it and disrespecting her gender identity. That’s just straight up solid. 🙂

    • Thank you.

      I know there’s a lot that many will disagree with me on the substance of Chelsea’s actions. I would probably have supported her personally if her release of classified information would have been targeted to specific documents as opposed to a mass data dump — a data dump that included many thousand articles she never reviewed before release.

      But, that’s my take. I realize other takes on all of this that are just as valid as mine. And, those points of view can be argued as passionately and a reverence for truth as my point of view.

  • I really could not disagree more strongly. No trans person implicitly “owes” the trans community* anything. Certainly, no person, no matter their celebrity, owe self appointed leaders anything. Actually, Kathy, above, nails this “People don’t exist for the needs of the organizations. Quite the opposite. ”

    * In so far as there even *is* a single, coherent trans community.

    I think, perhaps, you find it frustrating to defend her as a trans person because you don’t approve of her, totally unrelated, behavior. I have little sympathy for this. One’s convictions are not tested when you defend those you otherwise like, they’re tested when you defend those you otherwise find distasteful.

  • When someone transitions you respect that fact of life – even murderers. Just as when say, even when a murderer marries or gets baptized – yada, yada, yada – I’m not sure why this requires exposition or explanation.

    When people choose to transition is simply not at the discretion of your or of your organizations needs. Someone who has a dying parent, who is going through a divorce, has children, is perhaps waiting twenty long years to say retire from the Navy – or is locked up in military prison and in the middle of a somewhat high profile trial that might put them in jail for 135 years might just have a few things to worry about other than others feelings on the timing of their transition.

    In 2010 there were some minor impediments for Manning in changing her name – what with being held in solitary confinement, nude, in shackles, under stress positions, in a cell in Kuwait. Then in Qauntico. And under conditions the UN called torture.

    How pray tell does one get to the county court house to change ones name? And exactly why do you think it would have enhanced her safety and improved her chances in her case?

    Just Jesus – just fucking Jesus. Yes – she should have done with her life under such god damn extreme conditions what you and your organization would have found convenient.

    And yes – she broke the law and will be in prison. But – guess what – people in prison are still human beings. Military people in prison are still human beings. Trans people in the military who end up in prison are going to in a really bad place and need a hell of a lot of help – it would be nice if say an organization supported them instead of stigmatizing them. Maybe even the only organization for trans people in the military.

    And – since you note it was in 2010 when people knew Manning was trans and we all knew she couldn’t reach out while being in solitary confinement. Instead of questioning her for not doing so – perhaps it would have been good for a group who dealt with those issues to have maybe contacted her attorney – instead of noting how tough it is that that person didn’t meet the organizations needs. If only for the fact that it might have been prudent for the organization to do so.

    Oh – for your consideration.

    From James Wolcott:

    “As has been noted on Twitter, Hilter’s favorite architect and convicted Nazi war criminal Albert Speer was sentenced to 20 years in prison, 15 shy of the 35 year sentence meted out to Bradley Manning this week for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. Manning should have been sentenced to time served, but, no, our judicial system and national mindset has become so blankly grayly punitive and sadistic that the System doesn’t blink at treating the transgressions of a young private as being far more heinous than taking part in the construction of the Third Reich.”

    People don’t exist for the needs of the organizations. Quite the opposite. To lay the needs of others on the doorstep on someone with all of this on their back and who was given zero support is completely unfair. Who even helped her to even use those words you would have prefer she say? Did you ask her if she chose not to use them so she could deflect in some small way some of the heat from this away from those words and the community?

    Did you or your organization try and contact her AT ALL before writing about her?

    You quote scripture often. I may not be religious – but having been an altar boy back in my childhood and having a tad of training from the Jesuits even I know the basics:

    “ I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”


    • I was going to go along this same line of thought, however, I doubt anyone could be more poignant than that which has been expressed here.

      The only thing I’ll add is, if Autumn’s thoughts are as Kathy, myself and others are reading, well, the self-centeredness that Autumn is accusing Chelsea Manning of is just as pervasive still within the ‘hierarchy’ of the transgender leadership. Something that drove my own efforts of participation in, away from doing so.

    • On another board a cis person posed a hypothetical: if someone else was charged with murder or such would we support their request for hormones and to use a new name. Both myself and the other transwoman said yes and we honestly could not figure out how things like crimes and denial of transition (plus the pain it causes) would even be related. Maybe it is a cis thing or they just want to hurt her as much as possible?

      • I believe it to be a “cis thing” to a point. More than that, I think it’s striking back at the blatant perceived dishonesty and lack of ‘morals’ on the part of Chelsea’s decision making.

        This is an easy way to make a bigger target of her in their eyes. It also provides them with a measure on ‘ammunition’ against the concepts of SRS and other transition related expenses being a ‘benefit’ provided either in situations of incarceration and State obligations, or insurance, public or private being mandated to provide said needed services.

      • I have – Michelle Kosilek.

    • 1.) Couldn’t agree with you more, Kathy, on respecting the needs of trans people who are incarcerated to include murderers.

      2.) I was referring to name change prior to being incarcerated and when not on deployment. That’s why the caveat on my part: I don’t know if she ever had any chance to change her name after figuring out that she needed to transition.

      3.) I’m not part of an organization that’s taken a POV on this. I’m really only writing as me.

      4.) I never said she wasn’t a human being. I respect her gender identity, I vehemently agree that she should receive appropriate medical and mental health treatment while incarcerated, and that includes full treatment for her gender dysphoria. My lack of respect for her as an individual is what I’m talking about in this essay.

      5.) I don’t demand Chelsea support any organization. I wish she would have taken a moment to consider; however, the community she’s entering into. I wish she’d have considered her trans peers in her military family — especially the trans servicemembers who are currently serving in silence — in how and when she announced her transition. I wish she would have considered the trans people who are coming to her defense related to her gender identity and her healthcare needs — by simply acknowledging that she’s trans with some term in her announcement, such as trans, trans*, transgender, or transsexual.

      My point is that in her apology to the court said she didn’t consider others when she released the documents she released. Given her apology which showed regret that she hadn’t thought of others in her release of classified information, she then follows up a few days later with not thinking about trans community, especially the portion of trans community that’s currently serving the military services in silence, in the when and how of coming out. I was commenting that she really didn’t learn the lesson of not thinking of others that she days earlier had admitted was a mistake.

      6.) Let me reverse one of your thoughts — did Chelsea reach out to any trans organization or any trans veterans before coming out as a woman? She was in contact with others in trans community prior to coming out — I have no idea if she consulted them before she came out.

      7.) I’m very familiar with James 1:27. If I lived in Kansas, I would be trying to visit her to support her in her transition. As it is I have her address and will be writing her to support her transition needs while incarcerated. Just because I don’t respect her as a person — perhaps only as yet — doesn’t mean I shouldn’t and won’t treat her with love and kindness.

      • Hey – if have no respect for her – you’re not the person to support her. Trust me – it really comes through.

        People keep telling you her transition isn’t about what you would do or what you want or who you think she should have consulted. You ignore them and repeat yourself.

        No one has to clear their transition with you. Or with any organization.
        Hey – it sucks if that’s inconvenient – but I’ll bet you liked it when you didn’t need to ask HRC pretty please can I come out this week?

        This is what they call life. Display some adaptability.

      • Kathy, what’s wrong with me saying she could have done it better?

        How she came out is inconvenient, but it is what it is. She didn’t have to clear her coming out with me; she didn’t have to contact any organization. Hell, obviously we are adapting — trans military veterans are having to adapt just as you are saying we have to adapt. I can’t tell you how many media appearances I’ve made specifically to state that her gender identity should be respected — she should be called Chelsea and be referred to with female pronouns — and that she should receive appropriate healthcare treatment for her gender dysphoria.

        But, here within community I can say that how she came out impacts her communities. It especially impacts the trans-military subcommunity of the broader trans community. She didn’t consider her trans/trans-military community when she came out in the same way she didn’t consider her military peers when she data dumped more documents that she could have possibly reviewed. In apologizing to her military community peers for not thinking of them she didn’t learn a lesson that she could have applied to her trans-military community peers.

        Her trans-military community is now making lemonade out of lemons, Kathy. And, it’s not wrong or evil to point out that a trans-military community peer of hers — me — is unhappy she didn’t learn that lesson and we now need to make lemonade out of lemons.

        No, she didn’t have to think about my wants when she came out, and obviously she didn’t. But how much better it would have been if she did…and that’s my point.

      • “But, here within community I can say that how she came out impacts her communities. It especially impacts the trans-military subcommunity of the broader trans community.”

        No, that is not fair. You cannot load that responsibility on a person coming out who is on trial for her life.

        “No, she didn’t have to think about my wants when she came out, and obviously she didn’t. But how much better it would have been if she did…and that’s my point.”

        In perfect worlds there is a perfect way to do everything. My disappointment is that of all the people that should be cutting her a break it should be you. I think she is a heroine and to many of us how she came out was great. She didn’t make it the center of the trial she let it be just part of her after the trial.

        The joke is that if she ever sees sunlight again you can tell her. Till then its best to be supportive.