How the gender name change debate dehumanizes Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning and Private First Class in the United States Army, has been serving a prison sentence for leaking various materials to Wikileaks. Among the leaks were classified communications and a video that exposed potential war crimes in Iraq.

From the start of the leak saga, then-Bradley Manning was subject to intense controversy. Did the leaks constitute treason?

The debate still rages on, but an entirely different debate was ignited when it was revealed that Bradley wanted to become Chelsea. The prisoner wanted a gender change.

Social conservatives generally were opposed to Manning in the first place because of the nature of the leaks, but now more so because of the relevance of the LGBT agenda. Transsexuality is often labeled as a sickness and a disease by those intolerant on the right.

But in the end, does it matter?

Many opposed to Manning and intolerant of the LGBT lifestyle still refuse to acknowledge her preferred name of Chelsea, instead opting to use male pronouns to refer to “Bradley.” The claim here is that biologically, Manning is still a man.

Again, why does it matter?

There are more bizarre names Manning could have chosen to go by. But nobody sounds off outrage over Snoop Dogg not going by Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr.

Nobody also reacts with outrage when Senator Ted Cruz goes by another name instead of his birth name Rafael.

But when an individual wants to live their own life how they see fit, that’s a problem?

Whether the intent is to do so or not, the refusal to acknowledge Manning’s own preference dehumanizes her. The reference to “Bradley” with male pronouns is done out of disrespect to an individual’s preference.

Respecting an individual’s life choices and tolerating them are two entirely different things. One can be respectful, without wanting to be accepting. If one sincerely opposes the LGBT lifestyle, it is their right as an American to not agree with it. But it is still the right thing to respect an individual’s freedom to choose their own life’s path, as well.

This past week, it was revealed that President Barack Obama is considering clemency for Chelsea Manning. This reignited a debate that had gone quiet after a tumultuous election cycle overshadowed the country.

Conservative news site The Daily Caller ran an article “Chelsea Manning, Who Is Actually A Genetic Male Named Bradley, May Be Freed By Obama.” What was the point in that headline, other than to be spiteful and disrespectful?

This is going to be a growing issue in society as the LGBT community continues to grow. But it’s important to remember we do live in a free country. An individual has a right to their life and live their lives as they personally see fit.

Manning could be a hero for even the right, if they would stop allowing personal lifestyle choices become a political issue. The whistleblower was mistreated by the Obama Administration, mistreatment that was cruel and unusual. Cruel and unusual punishment is unconstitutional. How Manning was treated will forever reflect poorly on the Democratic President’s record.

But unfortunately, many are too distracted by intense condemnation of personal life choices to see larger issues and the bigger picture.

Chris Dixon

About Chris Dixon

Chris Dixon is a libertarian-leaning writer. In addition to writing "Undercover Porcupine", he is also the Managing Editor for The Liberty Conservative and writes for Cleat Geeks and Medium.