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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Manning: LGBT patriot or traitor?

“I believed I was going to help people … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public,” said U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison after leaking 700,000 classified government documents to WikiLeaks. Soon after the sentencing, Manning released a statement informing the world of her wish to be identified as “Chelsea Manning … a female.”

“I am Chelsea Manning,” she told NBC’s “Today” show. “I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since (my) childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”

Transgender war veteran Aaron Myracle of Iraq Veterans Against War supports Manning’s disclosure.

“I think it’s deeply flawed to consider Chelsea’s supporters unpatriotic,” Myracle told The Guilfordian. “(Manning exposed) crimes being carried out in our names as Americans … she should never have been put on trial. Exposing war crimes is certainly not a crime.”

A 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that resulted in the deaths of two Reuters journalists is one such “crime” that Myracle and Manning’s supporters highlight.

And while they see a patriot in Manning, others deem her a traitor.

“American Veterans for Equal Rights condemns the action of any service member who would betray the vital trust by publicizing information that could easily jeopardize the lives of our courageous young men and women serving in danger,” AVER Public Affairs officer Denny Meyer told The Guilfordian.

Did Manning’s gender identity crisis play into her questionable decision to leak confidential files?

Meyer and Myracle have conflicting views.

“This has nothing to do with whether Private Manning is LGBT or not,” Meyer said. “It is a matter of the largest act of treason in our nation’s history.”

“I believe that being transgender naturally puts one in a position to see things differently,” Myracle said. “When you are an outsider in society, you’re inclined to stop trying to fit in.”

LGBTQQA Coordinator Parker Hurley agreed, saying that “Manning resisting systems that criminalize the body inspired the notion of thinking outside the status quo.”

With the increasing trend of whistleblowers exposing state secrets to WikiLeaks, some argue the importance of distinguishing the nature of Manning’s and Edward Snowden’s cases.

“There are distinct differences between what Chelsea Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in Leavenworth for and what Edward Snowden is on the run for,” Myracle said.

While Manning exposed approximately 700,000 classified documents, the extent of information that Snowden leaked from the National Security Agency is largely undetermined, as is Snowden’s precise location.

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