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Erasing a hero





It’s doubtful that many in the United States are familiar with her name, though I’m sure we all remember her actions.

Breanna Manning is the preferred female name of the political prisoner known as Bradley Manning.

Private Manning was arrested in 2010 under the suspicion that she had leaked hundreds of thousands of classified government and military documents to Wikileaks.
 
One of the videos leaked by Manning shows U.S. soldiers in a helicopter gunning down unarmed journalists and firing on Iraqi children who moved to help the journalists.

These are the sorts of secrets our government wants to keep from
the world.

We’ll likely never know how many more videos of brutal murder are lurking in government databases while the perpetrators walk free.

After her arrest, Manning was subjected to brutal conditions in prison.

She was stripped of her clothes, kept in nearly constant isolation and observed at all hours of the day. 

Manning’s treatment was so poor that 50 members of the European Parliament demanded that Presisdent Barack Obama’s administration allow the United Nations special rapporteur on torture to investigate.

Initially, Manning’s gender identity remained a rumor, only confirmed by chat logs.

Those chat logs have since been verified and allow us to see something of Breanna’s pain.

In one message, she said, “I wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me ... plastered all over the world press ... as boy.”

Since the beginning of her military trial, however, Manning’s defense team has openly acknowledged that she identifies as a woman.

Evidence has been presented that Manning had told superiors she had “gender identity disorder,” and that she had information about hormone treatments in her room in Baghdad, Iraq.

Manning’s lawyers are now using her gender identity as a core component in proving that Manning was mentally unstable and should not be found guilty.

It’s tragic that Manning’s gender identity, something intimate and beautiful, is being turned against her.

But those criticizing the decision have not spent years being tortured in a military prison under threat of execution or life imprisonment.

What we should question is the media’s insistence on referring to Breanna as Bradley.

Despite the now public nature of Manning’s gender and choice of name, she is still referred to with male pronouns and by the name Bradley.

At most, the media calls the name Breanna an “alter ego” and conflates homosexuality with trans identities.

Even the Nobel nomination was for “Bradley” Manning and not Breanna Manning. 

Manning undoubtedly deserves to win that prize. She deserves it far more than the scoundrel Obama ever did.

But more than any prize, Breanna Manning deserves our respect, for both her actions and her identity.

­— atcrane@indiana.edu

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