How to refer to Chelsea Manning

Just the other day I was wondering what it would take to get nominally trans-friendly BoingBoing to (for the love of something) stop using male pronouns for Private Manning. Now I know.


As I said the last time this came up, Manning currently identifies publicly as male, and I respect that choice. It is a damn dirty shame that circumstances have compelled him to remain semi-closeted at the moment, but it is not my place or yours to tell a trans person when to be out. I will change my pronouns the moment circumstances warrant, I promise.


Where has Manning said that? All I’ve heard is friends, family, and legal team saying “male”, not Manning.

1 Like

OK, I’m stumped, I can’t come up with something dismissive enough. You just keep worrying about how to micromanage strangers and blame other people. I’ll get back to you. Or not.


I read an article recently in which Manning–I think through his legal team–said that he was identifying as male at this time to make things easier, with the implication that being out would hurt his chances in court. Unfortunately I can’t find that article now in the morass of articles about Manning’s dysphoria. Manning’s personal feelings don’t seem to be of much interest even to his supporters, which is a terrible shame. My apologies for not being able to find the thing; if I do turn it up, I’ll post it here.

The only (weaker, I know) argument I can offer is that he’s clearly appearing in court as male, and that a young person heading for a male prison has good reasons to want to present as male. Other than the article I can’t find, there’s no public statement from Manning one way or the other, so all we have to go on is public presentation. I know it’s vague, but I don’t think there’s grounds to say that using male pronouns at this time is a violation of Manning’s wishes.

We really need a better gender-neutral pronoun set in English. I’d happily use “they” or the Spivak pronouns, but I’d get a different group jumping down my throat for each of those.

Uh, I think that email that we’ve all seen now is pretty good grounds; at the very least not to use male pronouns any more.

1 Like

Mrrr. The thing is…well, at the risk of sounding all “some of my best friends are black,” I have two close friends in real life who are MTF trans. I’d known one of them for years before she publicly transitioned; I didn’t see it coming at all, but as soon as I heard about it, I used her new name and pronoun religiously, and shunned anyone in our circle of friends who refused to. The other, sadly, is not out and probably won’t be soon, for various reasons. I was one of the first people in this city that he told, and he’s discussed the pronoun issue with me. It’s heartbreaking, but he’s not in a position to come out publicly, and it’s better if I continue using the male pronoun to suit his public identity and to avoid accidentally outing him.

Of course, it’s muddier with Manning because everybody on the damn planet knows the secret now; there’s no question of protecting the kid from accidental exposure. I still believe that as a matter of principle it’s respectful to use a trans person’s public identity when discussing them in public. I can understand why you might disagree, in this case.

I don’t know what’s so goddamn hard about this. Manning is obviously not cisgender, and Manning hasn’t directly expressed a pronoun preference, so what is so hard about not using gendered pronouns?


I will change my pronouns the moment circumstances warrant

That’s great, but no one mentioned “changing” pronouns until you did. If you read the article, Manning is not referred to by gendered pronouns at all. “Pfc Manning,” “the Army analyst,” “Manning,” etc are all used, but neither he, nor she, nor any other pronoun. I say that’s good on BB, and await the day they drop “Bradley” from their coverage (not for Breanna, at least not without Manning’s clear saying so, but dropping “Bradley” for “Manning” or “Private Manning”).

EDIT: nvm just re-read and there’s a “his” in there. Serves me right for thinking Boing Boing could try to remain neutral on this unanswered question. My overall point (that it is entirely possible to tell this story without saying “he,” “him,” “his,” “she,” “her,” “hers,” “Bradley,” or “Breanna”) still stands.

1 Like

I moved this discussion here so it can continue if desired.

Your OP still works because then it’s deliciously snarky.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.

Well, just to bookend this with a definitive answer:

I’m glad that was finally established beyond any reasonable doubt, from the best possible source: Manning.

(Also, did everyone notice that I have the magical power of posting on closed topics?)


Appreciate the honesty, but I’m not sure why it required much thought?

If they’ve transitioned to, say, being a woman - then why would you refer to them as he? The whole point is that they’ve changed their gender.

She. Stop being a dick. You know damn well it’s she.


You have no excuse to intentionally fuck around with Chelsea’s pronouns, I know that.


You’ve got some weird bug where slashes seem to be creeping into your text. The word you’re after is “she” or “She”. Feel free to copy and paste these into your edit.


You know, in my opinion, your comment was entirely corrupted by your egregious abuse of Manning’s pronouns. The only reason for you to do that is to openly show disrespect for and contempt of Chelsea Manning. Knowing as we do that you are so biased as to be so disrespectful of her personally, why should any of us consider your opinion to be anything but equally biased?


Just to clarify, I was using “s/he” due to trying to refer to identified gender both in past tense (when Manning publicly identified as masculine) and present (as feminine) simultaneously. It’s not intended to be a slight, but rather respecting the shifting of publicly-acknowledged gender identity over time. Apologize if some folks found it to be antagonizing, it was intended to be quite the opposite.