Chelsea Manning: The US’s Warning to the Queer Community

Chelsea  Manning’s trial rages on and I didn’t think I could find something more disgusting than the fact that she was on trial in the first place. When I wrote Collateral Murder and Bradley Manning  a few months ago I thought I had seen it all and could firmly claim that the US cared more about the vague term “national security” than it ever would for its people.

The trial has gotten worse however. It is a small blessing that the government is not seeking the death penalty as Manning’s punishment, but the sentence now pending is 90 years in prison for six Espionage Act Convictions. Manning put out a confession recently saying:

I am sorry my actions hurt people. I’m sorry I hurt the United States.

Even if this confession is in the hopes of receiving a lesser sentence who did Chelsea Manning hurt? The pride of the US military? Boo hoo. How did Chelsea Manning hurt the US? By informing its citizens of war crimes? By her apology, she implies that she is guilty of treason. She has hurt the US. He has hurt people. This confession is sickening and I wonder what was done to her to make a person of her moral caliber turn around and take everything back. Yes, she could have gone through a more “legal” means of informing the American people of these war crimes, but she knew what was morally correct. I am terrified to think of what was done to her for him to come out with such a confession of guilt.

But even the confession itself is not the worst piece of the trial. Instead of focusing on evidence related to WikiLeaks, Dr. Michael Worsley has testified that Manning is diagnosed with Gender Identity Dysphoria. The military definition is someone who feels he or she is born into the wrong body (I do not know if this is the same as transgender although a lot of sources tend to conflate the two). Supposedly due to the gender roles associated with masculine army men, Manning felt isolated and had no resources to seek guidance. Her gender identity is spoken about not only as a disease. And even worse, it is used as evidence against Manning!

It is as if her gender identity is the cause of her supposed treason. Why else would such unrelated material about Manning’s personal life be brought into a trial concerning actions  of “aiding the enemy”?

This tactic of broadcasting her queer identity terrifies me. There is a message here to the queer community of America, spoken through Manning’s trial. We are being told with a subtle threat to keep our heads down. We are being reminded that we are the minority and should be on our toes. By linking Manning’s queer identity to her actions, standing up against the government, we are being told that any of us could also be traitors to the state. Queer = traitor.

If America wants to claim we are only a few steps away from being Chelsea Manning, then I have to say one thing:

We are Chelsea Manning.

 

 

 

Even Suicide is Sexist

I’ve been away at a Leadership Conference for the past few days so I have not had the chance to write as much as I would have wanted, but while at the Conference I learned a lot of interesting facts about how far sexism is ingrained in the world.

I also learned how sexism can skew the reasoning behind data.

Part of the Conference was a series of lectures. One of which, QPR (question, persuade, refer) dealt with suicide prevention.

 

A lot of data was talked about with what groups were most likely to complete suicide and a lot of statistics came up about the differences between male and female suicides. The most up to date information is the  data of 2009 (there is no up to date data for 2012 or even 2011 for the United States) but the information we were given at the Conference was from 2007. The data listed below is  from the conference.

  • Men are 4x more likely to complete suicide than women
  • women are 2-3x more likely to attempt suicide than men
  • women are more likely to attempt due to relationship problems are more likely to use less violent means of death (pills and poisonings)
  • men are more likely to use more violent means (hangings and firearms)

The leaders of the workshop asked us to insert our opinions as to why this data is so. It’s unfortunate but the information seems to be supporting classic stereotypes that women are the weaker of the species, have less conviction in the actions, and do not have testosterone so they are naturally less violent and aggressive. This is only surface level analysis and can barely be considered analysis at all.

Why are men more likely to complete suicide than women? They are less likely to talk about their feelings for one thing, being raised in a sexist society where men can never be feminine, and another is that if they use more violent means then of course they are more likely to succeed. How often do you shoot a bullet through your head and live?

Which makes the next question why are men more likely to use such violence? The answer is that it’s more culturally acceptable. When violence makes you a man of course it is going to impact every decision you make, even the decision to kill yourself. In addition, who is more likely to own a gun or know how to tie a noose, a man or a woman? A man of course. Men have the means to kill themselves in such a way and women do not. There is nothing biological about it.

The same goes for why more women attempt but do not complete suicide. When they do not have access to the aggressive means of men how can it be expected that pills will always finish the job? Also, of course if a woman does not complete then she has attempted, which explains why the attempts are so high for women. As for women killing themselves over relationships this is just as rooted in culture as everything else. Women are taught to value themselves based on their relationships whether with friends or with spouse and to place so much stock in their ability to maintain these relationships. When things go awry and those connections are all a woman is taught to value about herself what else does she have? According to data, not enough to live for.

There is nothing biology that makes women inferior to men. Women are equal. Society is not.

This blog is dedicated to anyone who has ever overcome suicide, or known someone who has killed themselves.