I write the following, first, with a loving pen that sends healing and hope to Pfc. Chelsea Manning. Second, I name the injustice of 35 years behind bars for Private Manning. Finally, my words call out the news outlets who are inappropriately late in using female pronouns (e.g., her/hers/she/she’s) for Private Manning: National Public Radio and Times. Shame on NPR’s paternal, uninformed bigotry.
On Thursday morning during the “Today” show, Private Manning’s lawyer, David E. Coombs, announced that Private Manning requests to be called Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, along with the female pronouns. Private Manning wrote,
Subject: The Next Stage of My Life
I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.
As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.
Chelsea E. Manning
Using a person’s preferred pronouns is respectful and subversive. If a person requests a certain pronoun, or perhaps not using pronouns, others are expected to respond in agreement. Preferred pronouns are not open to be contested, challenged or disregarded. Private Manning stated her name is Chelsea, and her pronouns are female ones.
Responding to a person’s pronoun choice(s) is also subversive to the patriarchal gender system which mandates a clear gender dichotomy. A person challenges the boy versus grrrl dichotomy when they publicly make pronoun requests. Alleys step-up and use the pronouns, and everyone is expected to follow.
If you would like to write to Chelsea Manning, her address is listed, below. Please use the “PFC Bradley Manning” when sending letters to the confinement facility, for prisons subscribe to the same cisism that NPR does.
Commander, HHC USAG
Attn: PFC Bradley Manning
239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417
JBM-HH, VA 22211