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Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Least Favorite Piece of Misogyny This Week: Chelsea Manning Edition

Posted by Barbara Holm on Sun, Aug 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM

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Jailed soldier Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Private Bradley Manning, came out as transgender, requesting that she be referred to as a woman from now on. Subsequently, many media organizations refused to distinguish her with feminine pronouns. Additionally, the military denied her hormone therapy treatment. My least favorite piece of misogyny/gender politic-related issues this week is the the media's bigotry and refusal to acknowledge Chelsea Manning’s identity as a woman.

I hate when people refuse to accept the way others identify themselves. For example, I identify myself by typing the identification code into the robot's mainframe before it destroys us all, and if that is wrong I don't want to be in the affirmative. The media’s rejection of Manning’s identity basically implies that the way she fits into the world is weird. But the way EVERY human being fits into the world is weird: Humans are a species evolved from chimpanzee-like ancestors, who wage violent wars, birthed the Beatles, created the Large Hadron collider, and support the Kardashians. We're intrinsically weird! Everyone is struggling to be themselves, to take up space in society, and we shouldn't hinder anyone's path to have a sense of self and to feel as though they belong.

Several media organizations have referred to Chelsea with masculine pronouns, including Today, USA Today, CNN, ABC, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. (Weirdly, still no comment from the Quibbler?) The media’s treatment of LGBT minorities has an effect on societal perceptions and we need to be more responsible.

"The tiny matter of pronouns might seem insignificant but it's fundamental to the person whose identity is at stake. You want other people to see you for who you think you are," explains Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University.

The media’s refusal to acknowledge Chelsea as a woman exemplifies a cruel style of bigotry wherein society dismisses anyone who isn't heteronormative and cisgender as if their sexuality is invisible. (If you have to be invisible, you should be at least allowed to fly a magic jet.)

On a positive note, the fact that Chelsea is brave enough to come out is very inspiring, and we are moving forward. People are empowered and able to assert their identity, and it's beautiful that we can proudly claim our true selves. Coming out as trans and asking for the respect that she deserves makes Chelsea Manning a role model. (Except maybe the espionage thing?) That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week, tune in next week to find out how I accidentally turned this suitor into solid gold.

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