August 23, 2013

Not much is getting said about the Chelsea/Bradley Manning transgender announcement.

I'm thinking it must be disappointing to some people that mean/stupid things haven't been said. Or did I miss something? There's nothing about Manning at all currently trending on Memeorandum. A search for "Chelsea Manning" at rushlimbaugh.comcomes up empty. The Blaze only quotes the Washington Post on the difficulty of reporting about someone who's acted in the past under one name and gender and now asks to be referred to differently.

I can't find anyone saying anything that gives pro-transgender advocates an opportunity to pounce. Where did all this restraint come from?

Here's James Joyner at Outside the Beltway handling the issue with great sensitivity a day after an almost agonizingly reticent discussion of the topic with Joshua Foust on Bloggingheads:

I don't think I've ever heard more hemming and hawing on Bloggingheads (and that's saying a lot).

ADDED: I do see this piece in NRO by Kevin D. Williamson, "Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman," which comes across as serious and not mean-spirited. Key passage:
We have created a rhetoric of “gender identity” that is disconnected from biological sexual fact, and we have done so largely in the service of enabling the sexual mutilation of physically healthy men and women (significantly more men) by medical authorities who should be barred by professional convention if not by conscience from the removal of healthy organs (and limbs, more on that later), an act that by any reasonable standard ought to be considered mutilation rather than therapy. This is not to discount the feelings of people who suffer from gender-identity disorders — to the contrary, those feelings must be taken into account in determining courses of treatment for people who have severe personality disorders.
That's very focused on surgical intervention, which requires the participation of doctors. Speaking of things that can be disconnected, you could disconnect that surgery from more speech- and expression-based things about names, pronouns, dress, and behavior. Why can't those things be treated more like other matters of conscience, like religion, where we leave people to their own notions?


Lem said...

Where did all this restraint come from?

Why help Obama distract us away anymore that we already are?

That would be my guess.

El Pollo Raylan said...

I'm thinking it must be disappointing to some people that mean/stupid things haven't been said. Or did I miss something?

S/he mocks his/herself. Especially that photo. I think that if the Army were serious about funding his/her operation/reparative therapy, you'd hear much more. Plus even more outrageous things are happening at this time.

Lem said...

...hemming and hawing

Manning is rejecting the male sex?

Having to be made to feel as though that is acceptable is like asking... I'll borrow some of your words, so I'll have less chances of "tripping up".

'And you won't be lured into Manning's little world of sex change. I don't think. I predict, if you focus on what might be going thru Manning's mind, before you figure out what his point is, you'll get bored and come back into the world you were born with, the world where life goes on, and you can always think of something better to do than change it into the complete opposite.'

Craig Howard said...

Kevin Williamson has a very interesting and, in my opinion, correct piece up at NRO titled Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman. Now, that's not to say that he doesn't think he is. But modern subjective gender-identity theories are attempting to ignore a biological reality that can be cut off but doesn't really go away.

SteveR said...

I mostly think we don't care.

n.n said...

People are confused. This happens occasionally. We should not encourage their self-indulgence. As long as their numbers do not reach critical mass, then it can be safely ignored.

The Drill SGT said...

This vet and many others I expect say:

The lad is a traitor. He has been found guilty and sentenced. Let him be jailed and then who gives a $hit about what he wants to call itself. The Army is going to call him Bradley Manning, prisoner XXXX. He'll serve whatever time in the small house. (Ft Leavenworth has three prisons. The Federal Penitentiary, the United States Disciplinary Barracks, and the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility). Mr. Manning will be at the USDB. Reserved for males only, enlisted men and officers with national security implication. e.g. the Army's high security jail. Let him rot in jail. The Army doesn't do gender assignment surgery, Even this post don't ask don't tell Army.

He got the same 20-40 year sentence that all soldiers that pass classified info to our enemies get.

John Lynch said...


I know a soldier who used to be a prison guard. He said there were a lot of transgendered people in prison, or at least prisoners who became that way during their stay.

Manning is utterly common in this regard. If some accommodation is made for him, it will quickly spread to many others. Are we supposed to put transgendered men in women's prisons? Put them in their own prisons? What?

To address the question of why conservatives have little to say- I think most conservatives recognize a prepared ambush, and would rather focus on Manning the traitor and oath-breaker than on Manning the transgender.

Jason said...

Yeah, Manning's going into a hole for decades. Who gives a shit?

However, Amanda Marcotte at Slate's Dos Equis Factor is pounding the table calling upon the media to toss common sense out the window and start giving this mincing little narcissist what he wants:

"The Press Should Start Using Female Pronouns Immediately."

traditionalguy said...

What's to say? Manning wants punishment. If you chop up this perfectly good man and inject him with female hormones the end result is pure tragedy. Enablers of this type of self destruction are cruel people, but when Manning wanted to be cruelly punished no big push back appeared.

Anthony said...

I have my doubts that the proper treatment for gender dysphoria plus strong internalized homophobia is massive hormone treatment plus radical surgery, and it seems the Army agrees.

While I'm willing to use the destination pronouns for someone who is on the journey, Pvt. Manning doesn't rate that so long as the Army prison system doesn't aid his transition.

Donald Douglas said...

Is this pounce-able?

'Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman'.

Jim said...

If the left wants to use Manning's gender identity issues to mitigate the severity of his sentence, might that encourage discrimination against LGBTQ folks? The old argument was that LGBTQ could not be trusted. The new argument is that LGBTQ are just as trustworthy as anyone. The correct liberal argument is that Bradley/Chelsea should have the book thrown at him/her because it serves the cause.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

This nonsense about human gender
Puts biology through some strange blender
Which totally wrecks
The basics of sex
Like a drunk on his cheap-whisky bender.

Imposing such warped mental flex
Gives sane folks some badly wrenched necks.
A mental dead-ender
For egos too tender
With laughable social effects.

Michael K said...

The whole issue of gender change surgery is confused. The first program in the US was at Johns Hopkin and they have abandoned it.

Dr. McHugh says that his research led Johns Hopkins to stop offering SRS for its patients, "... much, I'm glad to say, to the relief of several of our plastic surgeons who had previously been commandeered to carry out the procedures." He observes: "Having looked at the Reiner and Meyer studies, we in the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Department eventually concluded that human sexual identity is mostly built into our constitution by the genes we inherit and the embryogenesis we undergo."

McHugh says "I have witnessed a great deal of damage from sex-reassignment. The children transformed from their male constitution into female roles suffered prolonged distress and misery as they sensed their natural attitudes. ... We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it."

He urges that psychiatrists discourage individuals from seeking sexual reassignment surgery.

AlanKH said...

Maybe the desired sex "change" is a desperate ploy to avoid prison rape.

Heh, that's gonna be a sitcom within the next five years - male-to-nominally-female sex "change" recipient in women's prison. Call it "528's Company."

Levi Starks said...

I keep hearing the army this, and the army that....
The only thing standing between Bradley and his sex change is Obama deciding whether of not he has done enough pandering to the I was born in the wrong body constituency.
I also hear people asking why someone as confused about themselves a Maning is claiming to be wound up in the military with top security clearance. Well when I joined the Navy 30 years ago they asked questions. Questions that we don't ask and don't tell. Of course we're past that now.... It's all so confusing....

Saint Croix said...

Here's Paglia talking about Chastity Bono mutilating her body. It's particularly interesting because Paglia says she felt like she was in the wrong body when she was young. And if sex-reassignment surgery was available then, she might have gone down that road. And she's horrified by the possibility.

I think in general plastic surgery violates the Hippocratic Oath. In some circumstances it can help people. But there are many, many horrific examples of people who are scarred by surgeons.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Sounds like a personal problem to me, Soldier. Deal with it.

Saint Croix said...

One of the weird things about liberal ideology is how divorced it is from human reality. Indeed, much of liberal ideology seems to me to be an attempt to control reality, to change it.

For instance, a pregnant woman is surgically corrected so that she is no longer pregnant. The reality of the baby is denied, and the baby's aborted remains are hidden from view. Often the pregnancy itself is denied, hidden, repressed.

How healthy is this psychological denial? And how healthy is it for our society to have massive numbers of women paying doctors to force miscarriages on their bodies?

Abortion, plastic surgery, and sex-reassignment surgery are all symptoms of a society that has real and severe problems with human sexuality.

The human sexual norm has always been man-woman-child. Of course we can and do accept deviations from the norm. But it seems that the liberal mind is hostile to the very idea of sexual norms.

We are told that it's normal and healthy for a woman to pay a doctor to force a miscarriage. And we are told it's normal and healthy for a man to pay a doctor to cut off his penis.

Yet in most of these cases, the doctor is doing damage to a healthy body. It's normal for people to get old. What's abnormal is to use a knife to cut off tissue in order to fake youth.

There's a tremendous amount of fraud and deceit here. We are faking youth, faking a change of sex, and faking a non-pregnancy.

hoyden said...

I've always found Ann's threads on transsexuals to be entertaining and informative. Folks say with complete certainty that transsexuals are not "real women", the medical community is abetting delusion in offering surgery, and the surgery is mutilation.

I don't have any answers for folks except to say that 2013 marks my 30th year of delusion, mutilation, and pretending to be a woman. I've had my challenges making the adjustment but overall I judge the experience a success. I know for certain that I would not have survived beyond 1982 without surgery. I enjoy life now in a way I never could while living in the male role. The process of "sex reassignment" is both simple and complex. The surgery took a few hours and emotional/psychological changes about 20 years.

I don't talk much about my experience because I sense that for most folks the details of my life are TMI. I enjoy authentic companionship with many people; some know the details, some don't, and some probably wonder.

The trans community has its share of celebrities of various renown. There are also quite a few, I dare say a majority, who are not so well known, and have not had to endure the limelight.

Chelsea is another example of "We are from the government, and we are here to help."

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for participating, Hoyden!

I wonder if it would be helpful to everyone to notice that in reasoning and feeling about this question, we are free to frame the issue. What should the issue be? Even if the person in question wants to talk about whether he/she is a man/woman, that need not be the question for others. Williamson goes on about "sexual fact," but sexual facts can be regarded as private and left to private understanding, including ideas that might be metaphorical. Why do the rest of us need to pry into that?

Williamson bemoans the way gender identity is getting treated like the personhood of a fetus, which is left (before viability) to the particular pregnant woman to have her own ideas about. The abortion case law talks about the woman's autonomy and her search for the meaning of life, making it a matter of conscience, like religion, and justifying our leaving her alone about what the fetus really is or is not.

Obviously abortion opponents think there if there is a separate person, that person deserves protection and they want to rescue it.

That problem isn't present here however. There's just one person, and that person has some autonomous and personal ideas about his or her sex/gender. Let that be the realm of the individual. Don't argue about what "is" or the "facts." Leave the person alone.

At some point, other people are involved, such as when there is a question of which bathroom or locker room will be used or whether public money will pay for medical treatments, but these questions don't need to be answered by asking what the person "is." (Let it not depend on what the meaning of "is" is.)

Look at legal issues involving religion. Various religious believers have special needs, and they are often accommodated because we value freedom of religion. We absolutely do not make it a threshold question whether the religion is factually true.

If someone says I believe God requires me to wear a hat, it's considered completely inappropriate for the authorities or people who aren't intimate with the person to pressure him about whether there really is a God and whether that God cares about who's wearing hats.

Jason said...

Well, there's a bit of a difference between wearing a hat and amputating one's arm, no? As the NRO points out, we don't perform liposuction on anorexics who think they're fat, for good reason.

If someone wants to wear a hat out of respect for God, I have no problem with that. If someone wants to cut off a limb because God told them to I would absolutely engage them on the question of whether their religion was bullshit.

And yes, I know what Jesus said about if your right hand causes you to sin.

Jason said...

Hoyden: America wants to know... Can you still open pickle jars?

hoyden said...

Thank you, Ann, for articulating the separation of personal and social issues related to sex reassignment. I am grateful for your insight.

Regarding "good" or "bad" medical procedures I know there are many guys and gals who mutilate their perfectly function junk through the socially acceptable medical procedure called "sterilization."

Why is sterilization good and SRS is not? Can you say "double standard"?

Also, if you want to see the quintessential example of transsexual vilification and denigration then you can do no better than Janis Raymond's "Transsexual Empire". Get it through Ann's Amazon portal and see vilification done by a pro.

hoyden said...

Ann brought up the reasoning and feeling aspects and I've had a bit of experience there.

As a child I learned that how or what I felt was irrelevant to the reality of the anatomy between my legs. The male role demands the subjugation of feeling to reasoning. I did this quite well; so well that I really did not know what I felt about myself.

I knew that I had problems but I always hoped that someday things would be better. At age 18 I discovered drugs and alcohol. I learned that no matter how I felt, I could fix that feeling in about 45 seconds.

At age 27 my feelings were unraveling and I started therapy. For the very first time I articulated "I want to be a woman." Having said that out loud I imagined that therapy could help me change how I felt about myself. After 6 months I understood that therapy could not change how I felt.

I made the decision: pursue SRS, and if failing that, suicide.

After surgery I sent the next 20 years in therapy learning how to feel feelings and articulate them. I learned that feeling and thinking are complementary functions and both are needed to live life with integrity and fulfillment.

I got sober 24 years ago and that decision opened up for me a whole new realm of the spiritual journey.

"What a long, strange trip its been."

m stone said...

If someone says I believe God requires me to wear a hat, it's considered completely inappropriate for the authorities or people who aren't intimate with God to pressure him.

Conscience is a strong regulator, usually after the fact, but even before.

The "voice of God" telling you to do anything really is a imperative to believers. Manning is not claiming to have heard it to my knowledge.

jr565 said...

Just because you get a fake vagina or penis does not make you change your gender. If you are born a boy you are a boy, whatever modifications you do to your body.
There is not such thing as changing your sex.

Freeman Hunt said...

I am allowed to pretend whatever I'd like about myself. There is no requirement, however, that anyone else pretend along with me.

So, if I think I have to wear a hat, I can. I can't expect everyone else to wear hats though or expect them to agree that hat-wearing is a religious requirement. I can only expect them to leave my own hat alone. That's tolerance.

richard mcenroe said...

While I have only met a few, I can honestly say I never met a happy post-op transgender, and they seem to have had other problems psychologically and developmentally that had nothing to do with their sexual identity.

In short, they were as screwed up post-op as pre-, and I have to wonder if the obsession with their sexual identity was an avoidance or hindrance to addressing their other problems.

linsee said...

I'v recently read Deidre McCloskey's memoir, "Crossing," and she is clearly happier as a woman than she was as a man. The transition was difficult, not because she was in any doubt, but because some of her family tried everything they could think of to prevent her doing what she knew she wanted.

hoyden said...

I appreciate Ann's posts highlighting transsexual issues because she shares her perspective highlighting the issues in a way I have never considered. A sort of "can't see the forest for all the trees" experience. I feel profound gratitude to the non-transsexuals who have helped me to understand what I've experienced.

I also appreciate reading the views of Non's (non-transsexuals) as a way of gauging societal attitudes in general.

John Hopkins closing up shop does not invalidate the need for SRS but it does highlight the complexity involved in supplying care. Their standard of care was a prototype implementation that did not succeed in real life. Other folks have entered the breach and the quality of care and screening has steadily improved.

Some folks know a few transsexuals who have struggled and I have known a few also. I also know dozens for whom SRS was the right choice. The choice to pursue SRS doesn't obviate the difficulties of recovering and finding health and happiness, but SRS is often the critical and indispensable first step.

I find the viewpoints of Non's to often be facile; similar in depth and understanding to Liberals who support gun control and do not own guns.

Having skin in the game counts.

Still, I am drawn to hearing Non's viewpoints; both for what I can learn, and to gauge how committed I engage in sharing. Glib comments by "tourists" do not warrant much, if any, attention. Relevant and genuine inquiries are always appreciated.

A few years ago someone asked, "What is it that you like least about being female?" I had never considered the question and could think of nothing distasteful. I also did not experience female socialization and so did not have deal with the corrosive aspects that born-women experience in their lifetimes. In short, I got a sort of best and worst of both worlds.

Other folks have opined and inferred that my fake vagina somehow invalidates by existence. I share common ground with women who have survived vaginal and breast cancer, for whom surgery was life saving. I also share experience with women and men who have struggled with the dominant culture's expectations of what constitutes a "real woman" or a "real man".

The difference for me is that for the first 28 years of my life I lived the "male role" and now I am free to live life as I see fit.

Again, thank you, Ann for asking the questions and providing the forum for discussion.