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Upon being sentenced to 35 years in prison and losing his rank, Private Manning chose this moment to announce “I am female.” Manning claims that the name Bradley is no longer to be used. Chelsea Manning is the name we are to use. Manning’s lawyer are all over this, too, claiming that it is now a right to begin hormone therapy on the taxpayer dime.
Everything about this stinks, though. There’s no evidence of a medical diagnosis. The timing is all too perfect. The political effects are undeniable, in that Manning will get a new group of people who will reflexively give defense because of this newly claimed status.
I’m convinced this announced self-diagnosis by Manning is an attempt to win over new supporters on the Internet, the land of the politically polarized, and the home of the self-diagnosed. It may also be a last-ditch attempt to avoid prison.
Let’s start with the prison point first. Upon announcing the name Chelsea Manning, the Manning defense gets an easy opportunity to request that Manning not be imprisoned with men. The risk of sexual assault is too great. Further, nobody believes that the Army is going to imprison Manning with women. Even if we assume everything Manning has said is true, it would not be fair to women to place someone with women who has not undergone any treatment, training, or ever even lived as a woman before.
So if Manning cannot be housed with men or women, what’s left? Solitary? Nope. We’ve been through that before. Manning was previously kept alone. It was challenged back then, and Manning won, which is why Manning has over 100 days extra credit of time served. So it’s clear that Manning’s defense, and outside groups, are going to claim that Manning should not be ‘punished’ for being a transsexual by being kept alone for up to 35 years.
Naturally the conclusion is that Manning should get a lighter sentence. It’s all too perfect, and it’s all too perfectly timed. I don’t buy it.
Regardless of how Manning’s imprisonment goes though, release is inevitable. At that time, Manning will be out, with no career, a criminal record, and will have to rebuild. The Wikileaks team that were Manning’s accomplices are on the run themselves, and so they won’t be there to help when the times comes. So what’s left?
That’s why I believe Manning has announced this in order to manufacture some new allies. If Manning becomes one of the Great Trans Causes, then Manning has an instant place to land upon release from prison. Manning is hoping that people across the country who are trans, or who have known people who are, will project the hardships they have seen and endured onto Manning. Manning is callously playing with people’s emotions for pity, and to gin up support where it did not previously exist.
It’s disgusting, particularly when the timing is so transparent that there’s no reason to believe it, but because the traumas run so deep from those in the trans community who have been victims, there’s a strong desire there to show support. Manning is playing with people here, and should get no support in this game.