We are Bradley Manning

Why Is It So Hard to Call Chelsea Manning ‘She’?

Why is it so hard for people to type an extra s when they write about Manning? We updated our nomenclature for "Snoop Lion" and "the Artist Formerly Known as Prince." "Ali Lohan" and "Lil' Bow Wow" became "Aliana" and "Bow Wow" to reflect personal growth. We accept typographical requests from branded products like iPhone, PowerPoint, and eHarmony — and from branded humans like Ke$ha, A$AP Rocky, and 'N Sync. (The last being unusual even without the asterisk.) The idiosyncrasies of capitalism, apparently, are more compelling than a human's self-professed gender.

So why not pronouns? Particularly when the change is one that won't even set off spell-checker? Even if you cling to the belief that a word is not real until a certain number of dictionaries endorse it, she isn't a linguistic problem. It's only a problem for those who read it and balk, because they aren't used to it in the context of this particular person.

Rubb -- the Internet is being a wily minx today, but from what I can see, my friend blew it out of proportion. There was one recorded instances where Manning started a fight with a female officer. That was the instance where Manning's weapon privileges were taken away.

I would not really term that "domestic abuse" -- although it shouldn't be ignored.

I think the issue is that the story here all happened while she was living her life presenting as a cis gendered man. And in most situations as a straight male at that. And that the gender identity and sexual orientation is a big part of the story. It's not a matter of "we're going to ignore what this person is telling us" and more a matter of figuring out how to tell her story when her story is all tied up in the matter of her gender and sexual identity. Like there's this line from the Wikipedia article now:

Manning became the target of bullying at the school because she was effeminate and the only American. The students would imitate Manning's accent, and they apparently abandoned her once during a camping trip. Her aunt told The Washington Post that Manning awoke to an empty camp one morning, as everyone had packed up their tents and left the campsite. Manning identified to two friends in Oklahoma as a gay male, but was not open about it at school in Wales.

It paints an inaccurate picture to think of a girl being bullied because she was effeminate; she didn't really identify as a gay male, she was presenting as a male and identified to them as gay. I don't think those journalistic style guides were written with a situation like this in mind, were they? I think those were more for a "man bites dog" story where the person's time presenting as their cis gender is irrelevant to the story.

I think DS is 100% on board with those rules in those style guides for the average story, he's just saying that those rules are inadequate for a story like this. Using "he" isn't disputing that she's a woman, and was a woman at any point she tells us she was a woman. It's that there's a need in this story to talk about what gender she was presenting as during specific incidents to know how the world around her identified her. Is there anything about that in the guides?

tl;dr: it's not a matter of knowing the rules or even disputing the rules--it's a matter of wondering what the rules should be in a case like this.

Thanks to Hyp and DeVil for providing the "dysphoria" tag. This morning I was listening to NPR and the speaker used the phrase "gender disorder," and I was thinking, "Oh no you didn't just," without knowing what the less toxic, less pathology-oriented term should be.

CheezePavilion wrote:

tl;dr: it's not a matter of knowing the rules or even disputing the rules--it's a matter of wondering what the rules should be in a case like this.

Only, it's really not. The style guides are clear. Advocacy organizations are offering to give advice. It's reasonable to have a period in which there's some confusion and not everybody knows what to do, but we have statements like this coming out:

National Public Radio will continue for now to refer to Private Manning as “he,” according to a spokeswoman, Anna Bross. “Until Bradley Manning’s desire to have his gender changed actually physically happens, we will be using male-related pronouns to identify him,” she said.

So... what exactly counts as "actually physically happens"? Particularly when she's going to be living under prison rules in a men's prison? What kind of a bar is that? Do they mean when she starts on hormones? Will they require her to have surgery? (Note: Neither of these steps is required to change the gender marker on your U.S. passport.)

I have a transition that is "actually physically happening", but haven't asked people in my life to use a new name and pronouns for me yet. Why? Because physical and social transition are separate things, and I'm not comfortable enough to socially transition yet. Chelsea Manning is in a position where she must socially transition in order to press her rights, so that she can have the [em]opportunity[/em] to medically transition.

I'm not concerned that people are confused. But I [em]am[/em] concerned that news organizations are actively putting up defenses against doing the right thing. The first big news story about someone's transition happened 60 years ago, these days it comes up much more often, and there are clear guidelines in place for how journalists should handle things... and yet, they are outright refusing to do so.

[em]That[/em] is ridiculous, and of course advocates of trans* rights are going to keep criticizing them for it. It's not unreasonable for the general public to be unsure of what the proper thing to do is: but for people who [em]should[/em] know, and whose words influence the public discourse to refuse to do the proper thing makes it even harder for average people to learn how to behave civilly to trans* people.

Hypatian wrote:

I'm not concerned that people are confused. But I [em]am[/em] concerned that news organizations are actively putting up defenses against doing the right thing. The first big news story about someone's transition happened 60 years ago, these days it comes up much more often, and there are clear guidelines in place for how journalists should handle things... and yet, they are outright refusing to do so.

[em]That[/em] is ridiculous, and of course advocates of trans* rights are going to keep criticizing them for it. It's not unreasonable for the general public to be unsure of what the proper thing to do is: but for people who [em]should[/em] know, and whose words influence the public discourse to refuse to do the proper thing makes it even harder for average people to learn how to behave civilly to trans* people.

Just to emphasise this. It's not that the man in the street is making an innocent mistake. It's organisations making wilful calculated decisions and then announcing them.

*nod* My asking people here to refer to Manning correctly is because I believe the people on these forums understand well enough what they should do and why. I'm not going to castigate anyone for messing up—I'll probably mess up at times myself—but I do expect people to do their best.

The general public will only do as well as they know to do, which is not so well. Once somebody actually knows the right thing to do, if they willingly refuse, that's a pretty jerk thing to do. Having news organizations take such unreasonable stances makes it harder for reasonable people to learn what the right thing to do is, and makes it easier for unreasonable people to argue that their behavior is "correct".

Hypatian wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

tl;dr: it's not a matter of knowing the rules or even disputing the rules--it's a matter of wondering what the rules should be in a case like this.

Only, it's really not. The style guides are clear. Advocacy organizations are offering to give advice.

Sure, the people and organizations you describe are just being unprofessional jerks about it and making up their own hurtful rules like that one about "actually physically happening." I'm just not sure how clear those guidelines are for a situation like this when my assumption is that they were made for situations where the reporter is a jerk for even bringing the issue up in the first place: like I said, "man bites dog" is sufficient and there's no need to even go into whether they are trans- or cis-gendered.

Didn't mean to make it sound like "the rules are unclear--License to be a Jerk, everybody!" I mean for the situation described above where it's about how those rules apply to a situation where the gender identity and sexual orientation are such a big part of the story. Like in s.e./'ou'-gate, if you're thinking about the importance of the writer's gender when the issue is if atheists can do yoga, you're being a jerk even before you start talking about the rules. In this case, you can't even tell the story without going into those issues.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Why Is It So Hard to Call Chelsea Manning ‘She’?

Why is it so hard for people to type an extra s when they write about Manning? We updated our nomenclature for "Snoop Lion" and "the Artist Formerly Known as Prince." "Ali Lohan" and "Lil' Bow Wow" became "Aliana" and "Bow Wow" to reflect personal growth. We accept typographical requests from branded products like iPhone, PowerPoint, and eHarmony — and from branded humans like Ke$ha, A$AP Rocky, and 'N Sync. (The last being unusual even without the asterisk.) The idiosyncrasies of capitalism, apparently, are more compelling than a human's self-professed gender.

So why not pronouns? Particularly when the change is one that won't even set off spell-checker? Even if you cling to the belief that a word is not real until a certain number of dictionaries endorse it, she isn't a linguistic problem. It's only a problem for those who read it and balk, because they aren't used to it in the context of this particular person.

There's several layers to this, which I find kind of interesting. We're more willing to accept that someone might make a superficial moniker for their "brand", and use that as their identity. But we seem to reject the notion that someone might try to change their identity (as they are to those who are not them, anyway) and instead call it superficial. It's bizarre.

I'm wondering if a big part of this has to do with the fact Manning has been convicted and is now a prisoner. So, for example, let's say the Aurora shooter suddenly believes he's Napoleon Bonaparte and wants to be called Napoleon in all news stories. I bet a lot of news organizations would note the fact in a story but continue to call him by his first name unless he had it legally changed. Convicted criminals are going to always be treated differently than say celebrities or politicians.

Hypatian wrote:

*nod* My asking people here to refer to Manning correctly is because I believe the people on these forums understand well enough what they should do and why. I'm not going to castigate anyone for messing up—I'll probably mess up at times myself—but I do expect people to do their best.

The general public will only do as well as they know to do, which is not so well. Once somebody actually knows the right thing to do, if they willingly refuse, that's a pretty jerk thing to do. Having news organizations take such unreasonable stances makes it harder for reasonable people to learn what the right thing to do is, and makes it easier for unreasonable people to argue that their behavior is "correct".

Hyp I'm very curious now. And I would like to ask you something, that is of course if you feel comfortable answering. Is Gender Dysphoria something that is currently treatable? I guess the best way I can relate (from what I know of GD) or compare it to is clinical depression, and having to take medication for that for the rest of my life. Is GD capable of being treated the same way? Or even diagnosed the same way? My current treatment is issued because my brain is unable to balance the proper chemicals in order to function normally, so I take medication to regulate and counter that. Would you describe GD as essentially the same thing? In terms of the brain just not functioning the way it was intended to?

jdzappa wrote:

I'm wondering if a big part of this has to do with the fact Manning has been convicted and is now a prisoner. So, for example, let's say the Aurora shooter suddenly believes he's Napoleon Bonaparte and wants to be called Napoleon in all news stories. I bet a lot of news organizations would note the fact in a story but continue to call him by his first name unless he had it legally changed. Convicted criminals are going to always be treated differently than say celebrities or politicians.

Your analogy equates gender dysphoria to a delusion. It's the same analogy used by transphobic organizations to deny that gender dysphoria is a real thing.

The Conformist wrote:

And I would like to ask you something, that is of course if you feel comfortable answering. Is Gender Dysphoria something that is currently treatable? I guess the best way I can relate (from what I know of GD) or compare it to is clinical depression, and having to take medication for that for the rest of my life. Is GD capable of being treated the same way? Or even diagnosed the same way? My current treatment is issued because my brain is unable to balance the proper chemicals in order to function normally, so I take medication to regulate and counter that. Would you describe GD as essentially the same thing? In terms of the brain just not functioning the way it was intended to?

Yes, gender dysphoria is treatable. The treatment is transition so there isn't a disconnect between the individual's gender and sex.

If you can remember to use correct pronouns for an other-gender character at the gaming table, you can do it for trans* people.

Not for nothing, and perhaps I remember wrong, but the switch to referring to the Wachowski Siblings seemed pretty smooth and undramatic. Not sure why Manning is getting this treatment...unless, again, there was some drama I'm unaware of.

RoughneckGeek wrote:
The Conformist wrote:

And I would like to ask you something, that is of course if you feel comfortable answering. Is Gender Dysphoria something that is currently treatable? I guess the best way I can relate (from what I know of GD) or compare it to is clinical depression, and having to take medication for that for the rest of my life. Is GD capable of being treated the same way? Or even diagnosed the same way? My current treatment is issued because my brain is unable to balance the proper chemicals in order to function normally, so I take medication to regulate and counter that. Would you describe GD as essentially the same thing? In terms of the brain just not functioning the way it was intended to?

Yes, gender dysphoria is treatable. The treatment is transition so there isn't a disconnect between the individual's gender and sex.

I even wonder if that language will change. I mean, a transperson has a healthy mind *and* a healthy body. It's just that the two are mismatched, right? Their brains don't need to be fixed, just their 'environment' in the sense of bringing the environment of their body, how people treat them, etc. into line with their brain.

Maybe it's less like being depressed because your brain can't function normally, and more like being depressed because there's a tumor preventing your otherwise healthy brain from functioning normally?

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Not for nothing, and perhaps I remember wrong, but the switch to referring to the Wachowski Siblings seemed pretty smooth and undramatic. Not sure why Manning is getting this treatment...unless, again, there was some drama I'm unaware of.

I think it is confused/compounded by the delicacy of Manning's case. I think a lot of people don't know if they should feel like Manning did a patriotic or treasonous act and this addition to the saga makes the case that much more confusing.

Yup, what RoughneckGeek said.

The only known effective treatment for gender dysphoria is transition. It is incredibly effective and (medically) incredibly safe. It is the form of care recommended by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and countless other professional organizations world-wide. It is not even a little bit controversial.

No other treatment has met with any success—and plenty of treatments have been tried. You can sometimes treat the symptoms temporarily (essentially: stress leading to mental problems) with psychoactives or with therapy, but they keep coming back, because that's not the underlying problem. As long as that problem is there, the stress will remain, and will continue to cause problems for the transgender person.

In the case of severe depression caused by gender dysphoria: Imagine that your medication just stopped being effective after a while. That's been the experience of trans people who've been treated for depression before understanding that the real problem was gender dysphoria: the treatment worked for a while, but then over time it stopped being effective. Eventually, they realized that the real problem was gender dysphoria, and they began to transition and... their depression went away.

It's unclear what mechanisms are involved in gender identity, but current working theories suggest that it may be a matter not of brain chemistry but brain [em]structure[/em]. If that's right, then even if we [em]did[/em] want to stop being who we are just because it might make things awkward, it would involve re-wiring our brains. And yeah, the ability to do that is not really on the horizon.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Not for nothing, and perhaps I remember wrong, but the switch to referring to the Wachowski Siblings seemed pretty smooth and undramatic. Not sure why Manning is getting this treatment...unless, again, there was some drama I'm unaware of.

Because they're using gender dysphoria as part of the legal defense and Manning's already displayed a penchant for dishonesty. So it's not as simple as, a generic famous person now self-idenitifies differently.

Uh. It wasn't used as part of the defense. The defense is over. It was brought up during sentencing. Sentencing is also over. And Manning's dysphoria was officially diagnosed years ago before she was jailed, and the evidence produced during sentencing predates that.

However, there [em]is[/em] a troubling belief in the United States (among other places) that prisoners are somehow devoid of all rights.

Hypatian wrote:

Uh. It wasn't used as part of the defense. The defense is over. It was brought up during sentencing. Sentencing is also over. And Manning's dysphoria was officially diagnosed years ago before she was jailed, and the evidence produced during sentencing predates that.

However, there [em]is[/em] a troubling belief in the United States (among other places) that prisoners are somehow devoid of all rights.

Is it possible that there is also an aversion to tax payer dollars being spent to treat non life-threatening procedures?

*edit* Also, good post DSG.

SallyNasty wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

Uh. It wasn't used as part of the defense. The defense is over. It was brought up during sentencing. Sentencing is also over. And Manning's dysphoria was officially diagnosed years ago before she was jailed, and the evidence produced during sentencing predates that.

However, there [em]is[/em] a troubling belief in the United States (among other places) that prisoners are somehow devoid of all rights.

Is it possible that there is also an aversion to tax payer dollars being spent to treat non life-threatening procedures?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2...

Edit: 70% suicidal ideation rate for people with gender dysphoria. It's not non-lifethreatening.

Hypatian wrote:

Uh. It wasn't used as part of the defense. The defense is over. It was brought up during sentencing. Sentencing is also over. And Manning's dysphoria was officially diagnosed years ago before she was jailed, and the evidence produced during sentencing predates that.

However, there [em]is[/em] a troubling belief in the United States (among other places) that prisoners are somehow devoid of all rights.

You're not wrong. You'll see it even here on GWJ when people talk about hoping that someone gets sexually assaulted in prison. "They deserve it", etc. The way we treat prisoners is appalling. She's entitled to medical care. And entitled to user her chosen name.

I just can't emphasize enough, though, that society is going to lag on this for a long long time. That's not to say you shouldn't try and shouldn't fight it. It's just to say that society has changed a lot in the last 50 years. 50+ years ago we still saw lynchings in the south regularly. Now openly gay men kiss on TV regularly. We've made a lot of progress. And in a weird way it's happening at lightning speed. Sometimes we forget that. Relative to the march of history previously, we're changing so quickly. People are not suddenly going to use the correct name and pronouns overnight.

Tanglebones wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

Uh. It wasn't used as part of the defense. The defense is over. It was brought up during sentencing. Sentencing is also over. And Manning's dysphoria was officially diagnosed years ago before she was jailed, and the evidence produced during sentencing predates that.

However, there [em]is[/em] a troubling belief in the United States (among other places) that prisoners are somehow devoid of all rights.

Is it possible that there is also an aversion to tax payer dollars being spent to treat non life-threatening procedures?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2...

Edit: 70% suicidal ideation rate for people with gender dysphoria. It's not non-lifethreatening.

Is this purely a social issue or is it a chemical issue? By that I mean this. Does hormone treatment and the like reduce the ideation rate. Or does it require daily interactions to change based on acceptance of name change, physical appearance change, etc.

Because this is a touchy subject I have to be 100% clear that I'm asking a question. I'm not probing around a bias. I just really don't know and now I'm curious. Would the ideation rate alone go down if hormone treatment were started or is this a broader issue than that?

DSGamer wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

Uh. It wasn't used as part of the defense. The defense is over. It was brought up during sentencing. Sentencing is also over. And Manning's dysphoria was officially diagnosed years ago before she was jailed, and the evidence produced during sentencing predates that.

However, there [em]is[/em] a troubling belief in the United States (among other places) that prisoners are somehow devoid of all rights.

Is it possible that there is also an aversion to tax payer dollars being spent to treat non life-threatening procedures?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2...

Edit: 70% suicidal ideation rate for people with gender dysphoria. It's not non-lifethreatening.

Is this purely a social issue or is it a chemical issue? By that I mean this. Does hormone treatment and the like reduce the ideation rate. Or does it require daily interactions to change based on acceptance of name change, physical appearance change, etc.

Because this is a touchy subject I have to be 100% clear that I'm asking a question. I'm not probing around a bias. I just really don't know and now I'm curious. Would the ideation rate alone go down if hormone treatment were started or is this a broader issue than that?

It depends on the individual which is why the call on whether a treatment is life-threatening or not should be with the individual's doctor.

Imprisoning someone and denying them medical care is simply cruel.

RoughneckGeek wrote:
DSGamer wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

Uh. It wasn't used as part of the defense. The defense is over. It was brought up during sentencing. Sentencing is also over. And Manning's dysphoria was officially diagnosed years ago before she was jailed, and the evidence produced during sentencing predates that.

However, there [em]is[/em] a troubling belief in the United States (among other places) that prisoners are somehow devoid of all rights.

Is it possible that there is also an aversion to tax payer dollars being spent to treat non life-threatening procedures?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2...

Edit: 70% suicidal ideation rate for people with gender dysphoria. It's not non-lifethreatening.

Is this purely a social issue or is it a chemical issue? By that I mean this. Does hormone treatment and the like reduce the ideation rate. Or does it require daily interactions to change based on acceptance of name change, physical appearance change, etc.

Because this is a touchy subject I have to be 100% clear that I'm asking a question. I'm not probing around a bias. I just really don't know and now I'm curious. Would the ideation rate alone go down if hormone treatment were started or is this a broader issue than that?

It depends on the individual which is why the call on whether a treatment is life-threatening or not should be with the individual's doctor.

Imprisoning someone and denying them medical care is simply cruel.

Well, I don't think she should be in prison anyway, going back to the original topic. I feel really strongly that all of this is a huge distraction from the real issue, which is the fact that she's getting essentially a life sentence while Wall Street criminals went free and the architects of the war in Iraq went free.

Everyone is getting off free except the whistleblower.

Tanglebones wrote:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2...

Edit: 70% suicidal ideation rate for people with gender dysphoria. It's not non-lifethreatening.

The abstract failed to say how many of that 70-odd percent of the Japanese GID patients went from thinking about suicide to actually attempting it (and being successful).

It remains a valid question of just how life-threatening denying the procedure would actually be.

It's hard to say—it depends on the person. Some people are more dysphoric about some things than others. Being treated respectfully (proper name, pronouns) counts for a lot. Bringing your body shape and sense of self into accord with hormones also. Some people are extremely dysphoric about genitals, but only a small proportion of trans people have genital reconstruction surgery.

It's also worth noting that: a) all Manning is seeking at this point is hormone therapy, and b) hormone therapy is incredibly inexpensive. (More below.)

Surgery costs more, of course—but as I noted, a lot of people don't feel they need that, or can't afford it. (About 20% of trans women have a vaginoplasty. About 40% would have one if they could afford to.) It's common for trans people to wait years to have that done, even if they want it, as they have to acquire resources and HRT takes care of a lot of the stress. I wouldn't expect Chelsea to seek surgery while in prison, unless she ends up serving her full sentence.

Regarding HRT and its costs:

This is something that I was recently surprised by—I think a lot of people imagine that this is a bigger thing than it actually is. I was chatting with my brother-in-law a couple of days ago, and he asked about hormones and I described what I was taking and he was like "That's it? I thought it would be some crazy cocktail."

HRT for trans women consists of two things. First, estrogen, typically estradiol. This is very cheap, and is commonly prescribed to women who have heavy bleeding during their periods, or to women after menopause. I pay $10 a month for this, and take a tiny tiny pill twice a day. Second, anti-androgen, usually spironolactone in the U.S. This is also very cheap, and is also used as an androgen suppressant for people with heavy acne, or as a blood pressure medication. I pay $5 a month for this, and take a half a pill twice a day.

That's it. That's enough to change the shape of your body, the shape of your face, prevent hair loss, change your moods, etc. It's enough to change your hormone levels to those typical of a pubescent girl.

At some point, I may begin taking progesterone, which is produced by women after menarche and especially during pregnancy. It's also very inexpensive, although I don't know exactly what it will cost.

None of these drugs are even controlled. Trans women with no insurance frequently order generics online, and even have their own blood tests done to monitor hormone levels. (That costs me ~$20 every few months.)

For trans men, it's even simpler in most ways: all they need is shots of testosterone. That takes care of everything. Testosterone is controlled, however, because of abuse by athletes, body-builders, and the like.

OG_slinger wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2...

Edit: 70% suicidal ideation rate for people with gender dysphoria. It's not non-lifethreatening.

The abstract failed to say how many of that 70-odd percent of the Japanese GID patients went from thinking about suicide to actually attempting it (and being successful).

It remains a valid question of just how life-threatening denying the procedure would actually be.

It did mention 31.8% as a rate of attempted mutilation, including suicide attempts.

I don't know those numbers for the U.S., but I do know the suicide attempt numbers: 41%. ( Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (PDF))

I 100% agree that if 10$ per month is what is on the line it is criminal to withhold treatment.

SallyNasty wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

Uh. It wasn't used as part of the defense. The defense is over. It was brought up during sentencing. Sentencing is also over. And Manning's dysphoria was officially diagnosed years ago before she was jailed, and the evidence produced during sentencing predates that.

However, there [em]is[/em] a troubling belief in the United States (among other places) that prisoners are somehow devoid of all rights.

Is it possible that there is also an aversion to tax payer dollars being spent to treat non life-threatening procedures?

*edit* Also, good post DSG.

To be clear, this was just asking a question. Don't misinterpret ignorance for malice. I am getting my ass kicked in IRC as though I was from the Westboro Baptist Church! I was just hoping maybe there is a different explanation than cruelty and prejudice.