Here is my comment on that article:
Amazing, the amount of cheap insulting hostility to Private Manning people have felt free to post here in the Comments to O'Hehir's thoughtful article.
Some years ago (1970's in fact), I did an in-depth article on a Male to Female pre-op transsexual in The Organ, an alternative so-called "Underground" magazine. I met a few other pre-ops during the weeks I was developing the article, and was initially stunned by the amount of straight-on mean-spirited crap each and every one took every day from good decent honest Christian citizens. (I didn't try to analyze why people met the idea with such personal hostility, even though others might try that approach. The fact of it was -- whatever the cause -- it was sheer meanness and bullying, and trying to identify the cause is always, in some ways, partially justifying the behavior. It's not justifiable.)
I told readers to look at the the comments attached to the article and see how many of them were just pure meanness.
In the article I had written in 1972, I likened what this and other pre-ops went through as the transgender person being akin to an urban vacant lot -- one passerby throws a bit of trash into it or at it, another does the same .. doesn't think, just throws it and so so what -- it's just one little comment here or a mean look there, right? But mean-spirited.
But the sum of it is that, like an urban vacant lot, the person/ground is buried under years and years and years of petty, mean-spirited crap. And then the good citizens complain that the transgender person "seems hostile and paranoid and doesn't seem normal."
All anyone needed to do is look at all the comments below that Salon.com article that fit that description to understand how the point I'd made back then was real (and unfortunately seems to STILL be the way things are).
Every transgender person has longed since childhood in one way or another for the change, and it's not just the result of surgery being more available -- the fact of available surgery now just makes the existing need to change more desperate, kind of like living in East Germany near the Berlin Wall in the 50's and 60's where you could SEE fulfillment and FREEDOM available just yards away.
Long before any form of actual surgery was available, there are records of self-mutilation because the presence of the wrong genitalia was a nightmare to the person, so it's not -- as some idiot put in the comments -- only because surgery is available.
Whether Private Manning was a hero or traitor is not the issue. Dissing Manning for having joined the military (as one comment put it) is stupid -- being small and effeminate is a prescription for everyone -- family, friends, ministers, priests, et al, telling him over and over again to "get tough" -- join the Army and get tough and manly.
Unlike Muhammad Ali, however, I would think that very few people actually walked right up to Ali to spit, curse, insult or otherwise give him grief.
I met the champ close up at a Vietnam Day rally in the 70's -- I was Press so I was behind the podium and he was coming up to the podium right in front of me. I went over to show him some support and -- first of all -- having only seen him on TV, and he as graceful as ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev, I was surprised at how big he was. (Not as big, however as MR T, his bodyguard, who backed me off from talking to the champ.) Not many people would diss him to his face.
But Private Manning is/was small and not powerful, so he was (and now she is) considered fair game.
Al Jazeera America ran an interview with a woman who was an email conversant with Manning long before any wikileaking notoriety, and he talked to her about the bullying and abuse in the Army made his nightmare even worse.
So to those who feel a need to throw fag-bash ugly comments at Chelsea Manning, I can only use a time-honored American statement:
"At long last, sir -- have you no decency?"
You can thank your gods that you don't have to live in the painful conundrum of a transgender person, and also that your own irreconcilable personal knots haven't (yet) become a topic of public derision.
The Organ Reader -- a complete* collection of all 9 issues of The Organ is available as Print on Demand from Ramble House Press It's $22 -- 8.25 x 11.5, 300+ pages
You can see it -- front and back cover and table of contents along with introductory articles from the publisher and former editors HERE --
You may be amazed (I know I am) to see how many of the articles published 40+ years ago are still timely and relevant.
*There are a few articles that The organ reprinted back then for which no one is available to grant copyright permission.
One additional thought -- it's not like "Tranny Porn."
No pre-op taking hormone treatments can raise an erection.
What they (the Tranny Pornettes) are is men with breast implants, although some of them might be trying to earn enough money to start the steps to surgery -- a lot of models of women's fashions are pre-ops.