Yesterday, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. Today comes word that Manning would like to be known as Chelsea Manning from now on and declared her gender identity to be female. These revelations were made in a letter read by Chelsea's lawyer to NBC's Today show.
The full text of the statement (titled "The Next Stage of My Life") is:
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 , 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
As i said yesterday, anything which deconstructs the notions that sex and/or gender are binary concepts (instead of continuous spectra or distributions) is good news for the LGBT community and advances LGBT equality. Opposition to LGBT equality (and homophobia and transphobia) is almost always rooted in stereotypes and misconceptions about how males and females "should" act, so challenging those beliefs about gender supports LGBT folks.
Hat/tip to LGBT Think Progress.