Guest Author - J. Ruel
No matter what opinion you have of Private Manning, there is one thing that cannot be denied: Private Manning is a convicted criminal for leaking classified American military secrets. Whether or not you agree with the conviction, or the sentence, is not up for debate in this article. What is up for debate is the recent reveal of Private Manning’s Gender Identity Dysphoria. Private Bradley Manning, who prefers to be referred to as Chelsea Manning, has identified that they are a Transgender Biological Male who at some time in the past, was seeking out gender reassignment and to transition into being a female.
Being Trans* is a very difficult and widely misunderstood condition. People recognize transgender-ism and it’s counterparts widely because of comic shows, stories, movies, and mainstream television and big screen movies. However that may be, most people don’t understand the differences between the types of transgender-ism, and therefore have no real understanding, and this ignorance leads to the current situation we have right now with the Bradley/Chelsea Manning case.
The fact that Private Manning has publicly stated that they are trans* should be enough. But in this world of “put up or shut up” we require people to “prove” themselves. Is it not enough that a person has had to struggle their whole lives feeling not “right” and like they are in the “wrong” body, but we then make them “prove” their feelings. People cannot and don’t separate the gender from the sexuality, and because of this, the two are usually improperly combined into one mindset of thinking. They cannot understand the simplistic concept of sexuality is between the legs and done in the privacy of the bedroom, and gender is what occurs between the ears, and involves no one else but the person themselves. Chelsea, as she has been asked to be called, deserves the benefit of the doubt, and with doing a little internet sleuthing, you can find many reports of the fact that yes, she did identify BEFORE the trial her status as a Trans* woman and therefore, we can take this with more than a grain of salt that it is not a media nor political ploy on Manning’s part.
But that isn’t enough. Now we have to turn the circus sideshow freak into more of a freak. We need to turn her into the butt of political commentators jokes. We have to win readership and viewership at her expense, both physically and mentally. And we don’t have to worry because no one is going to stick up for the freak in the first place. Unfortunately this is the mindset of a vast populous of this world. Early exposure to the public included, but was not limited to, Eunics, Lady Boys, Side Show Freaks, and He-she’s/Chicks-with-Dick’s. We Trans* folk have had a constant uphill struggle to be recognized not as freaks, marketing ploys, alternative performers, and freaks, but to be considered normal people. Not to be shunned, but to be embraced like all our other brothers and sisters. Thankfully we have been embraced to a point by the Gay-Lesbian community. But that is not without issues either because once again, gender and orientation are two separate things.
The point of this whole article is to stop portraying Trans* individuals as freaks. Stop making us prove ourselves to you. Stop making us prove we aren’t just asking for attention but actually secure in our identity and our want and desire to be a “normative” gender, and not stuck in the wrong body for our gender. We want better access to medical treatments to complete our transition without having to resort to back ally hormones and surgeries in second and third world countries. If a Trans* person has the right IN PRISON to receive treatment to make them normative and in the correct body, why shouldn’t the general public have the same opportunity. And why should someone have to suffer at the hands of someones joke about putting on a wig and looking like Tonya Harding, or that he’ll get a lot of practice in prison being the woman? Take your sorry excuse for a joke, your stupidity, and lastly your stereotypical ignorance, and shove it where the sun don’t shine. Or better yet, walk a mile in my shoes, and maybe learn some acceptance and tolerance for people who are different. Chelsea, although a convicted criminal, deserves the same amount of respect as you demand of yourself. And I do to!