When Chelsea Manning – formerly known as Bradley – came out publicly, a jumble of thoughts raced through my mind.
I felt a rush of pride and solidarity, and a voice inside me cried, “Yes!”. For a fleeting few seconds the news existed in a vacuum, protected from society and its normative strictures. Chelsea’s first autonomous act after years of having every movement and utterance dictated for her, is also one of the scariest and exciting things a person can do. It points to a courage and self-awareness far removed from the weak and troubled character imposed on her by the prosecution and mainstream public.
Rather than marvel at the news, I marvelled at the relief she must be feeling. Most of those familiar with Manning’s trial would have been far from surprised. Chelsea’s gender identity has been discussed on several occasions in court, and many supporters have long since felt uncomfortable using the name “Bradley”. Now though, trial and sentencing over with, she can be herself.
The author is a journalist and documentary-maker