The Curious Case of Bradley - Chelsea Manning

Let's just set aside any questions of whether Manning was justly sentenced, except to say that anyone who breaks the law in the name of a cause has to know that jail time is a strong possibility. The first thing that is curious to me is whether her-his gender identity issues had anything to do with his leaking of information. I've seen some commentators say that the two things are simply unrelated. Fair enough; we would only be speculating as to motives anyway. However, if this scenario played out in a novel or film the reader or viewer would of course think that the behaviors are linked. And why wouldn't they be? Life doesn't go forth in neat compartments like the cars of an Amtrak train. That said, I'm not actually going to speculate here.

The second curious thing is that s/he is hoping the government will pay for the sex change operation. (Aside: Did anyone else think of Dog Day Afternoon this week?) God and demographers know I am a Massachusetts liberal, but you know what? There are limits. I think the gender identity issue is real, and would never belittle the pain and confusion those facing this must feel . . . but I don't think the operation is necessary in the same sense that treatment for cancer would be. People can live with this condition; there are ways to accommodate. Similarly, I don't think prisoners should be able to vote. By committing a crime the individual unequivocally surrenders some rights, including the privilege of being able to shape society.  I do, on the other hand, believe strongly in educational opportunities for prisoners, education being a cornerstone of personal change and potential rehabilitation and reentry into society.

UPDATE, 8-27:
Now that the federal government has refused to pay for hormone therapy, Manning will do so herself.


  1. I thought the timing very peculiar and wondered about Manning's motivation. And yes, people justly imprisoned for breaking the law should not be able to vote. Education is a terrific use of their time and one which potentially changes their world view as well as fitting them out for a better place in society.


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