LGBT Groups & Others React to Manning’s Announcement
Shortly after Pvt. Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison this week for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, told the world on Thursday that he identifies as a woman and wants to be called Chelsea Manning, a number of LGBT rights groups reacted to the announcement, applauding Manning’s bravery and stressing that media outlets ought to respect her and use the proper, feminine pronoun.
"Regardless of how she came to our attention, Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s transition deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. As she requested in her letter, journalists and other officials should use her chosen name of Chelsea and refer to her with female pronouns," a statement by the Human Rights Campaign reads. "Using the name Bradley or male pronouns is nothing short of an insult. Media, having reported on her wishes, must respect them as is the standard followed by the AP Stylebook."
The HRC goes on to say Manning "deserves the same thing that any incarcerated person does -- appropriate and competent medical care and protection from discrimination and violence. The care she receives should be something that she and her doctors -- including professionals who understand transgender care -- agree is best for her. There is a clear legal consensus that it is the government’s responsibility to provide medically necessary care for transgender people and the military has an obligation to follow those guidelines."
Officials from Lambda Legal echoed HRC’s sentiments in a similar statement, saying, "Transgender people -- like all people -- deserve health care and are constitutionally protected in prison. Period. In fact the U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled in Farmer v. Brennan on the right of transgender people to be free from cruel and unusual punishment while in prison which includes withholding medically necessary treatment."
GLAAD released a statement as well, urging the importance that the media use the proper pronoun when referring to Manning.
"Because Chelsea Manning wrote a now widely-circulated letter asking to be referred to with a specific name and with female pronouns, and because this AP guideline exists, there should not be confusion or entire articles speculating as to which name and pronouns should be used to refer to Chelsea," GLAAD’s statement reads. "In addition to using the correct name and pronouns, reporting on Chelsea Manning also provides a space to discuss the specific issues facing transgender people in prison, and those facing transgender people in the military. These are complicated topics that are addressed by different organizations respectively."
GLAAD also pointed out that a number of major news publications, including the Associated Press, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post "referred to Manning with a male pronoun throughout stories about her announcement Thursday morning that she wished to be identified as a woman and had wished to be called Chelsea, not Bradley."
"We would probably criticize the media overall," Ferraro said when asked about GLAAD’s reaction to such references. "Chelsea Manning’s announcement today and subsequent media judgment reflects a lack of education on covering transgender people. Media today should respect Chelsea Manning’s announcement and that includes using female pronouns when speaking about her and that includes referring to her as Chelsea."
The ACLU LGBT Project responded to Manning’s announcement and discussed gender dysphoria, saying Manning "will be seeking hormone therapy as a part of her transition during her incarceration," and went on to add that "public statements by military officials that the Army does not provide hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria raise serious constitutional concerns.
"Gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition in which a person’s gender identity does not correspond to his or her assigned sex at birth, and hormone therapy is part of the accepted standards of care for this condition."
Though many within the LGBT community have lauded Manning’s announcement, at least one transgender women has taken issue.
Kristin Beck, the former Navy Seal who came out as transgender in June, issued a statement, sharply criticizing Manning for using the issue of gender identity for her own gain.
"What you wear, what color you are, your religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity has no basis on whether you are a CRIMINAL or NOT," Beck posted on her Facebook page. "For this person, whether male or female to use gender identity to act ’BADLY’ is a slap in the face to me and everyone who does not fit the ’Binary Gender Norm.’ It is not an excuse for anything illegal or unjust.
"This person took an oath to protect American interest and defend the constitution, and took additional oaths due to security clearances to protect information that leaders deem secret," Beck continued. "There are legal avenues to whistle blow or bring attention to issues. THIS person is a liar and a thief and a traitor to many people. If Bradley is truly ’Chelsea’ then ’she’ is a traitor to ME personally. There is no excuse."