Above: Chelsea Manning by Alicia Neal
SF Pride Revisits Controversy and Honors Trans* Whistle-blower Manning in 2014
Today, April 11th, the nation’s largest Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee announced on its website that WikiLeaks whistle-blower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning has been chosen to represent the event as an Honorary 2014 Grand Marshal.
Manning thanked the San Francisco Pride Committee from Fort Leavenworth military prison, declaring, “As a trans* woman, I appreciate the Pride movement’s significant role in bringing together diverse communities and elevating the public profile of the fight for queer rights. I have always enjoyed attending Pride celebrations given the opportunity, and I’m deeply honored to receive this title.” Manning explained that she prefers “Trans*” (with an asterisk) to denote not only transgender men and women, but also those who identify outside of a gender binary.
Chelsea has been working with artist Alicia Neal to illustrate how she sees herself, and wishes to look after receiving treatment for gender dysphoria at Fort Leavenworth military prison. The initial sketch for the portrait is being shared publicly for the first time today to coincide with the SF Pride announcement. Her portrait of Chelsea is above.
The annual SF Pride celebration is the largest of its kind in the country, attracting up to 1.8 million people from around the world.
The SF Pride Grand Marshal website states, “San Francisco Pride’s Grand Marshals are the public emissaries of Pride. They represent a mix of individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.”
The 2014 Pride Committee explained that they’re acting to rectify a public controversy from last year, in which Manning had been elected a Grand Marshal but the honor was later revoked by the 2013 board of directors. The new Board President, Gary Virginia, stated, “SF Pride’s oversight of the Electoral College community grand marshal nomination and election process in 2013 was mishandled. Even with this controversy, thousands of Manning supporters in the 2013 Pride Parade represented the largest non-corporate, walking contingent in the parade. I want to publicly apologize to Chelsea Manning and her supporters on behalf of SF Pride, and we look forward to a proper honor this year.”
Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, came to fame in 2010 while serving in Iraq. She transferred an unprecedented number of classified documents to the public via WikiLeaks, explaining that she hoped to promote “debates, discussions and reforms” of U.S. foreign policy. Sentenced to 35 years in prison by Army Colonel Denise Lind on August 21, 2013, she came out publicly as transgender the next day, and now awaits the appeals phase of her legal proceedings.
The Chelsea Manning Support Network is currently engaged in supporting Manning’s request for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and a legal name change, in addition to preparing for legal appeals. Manning will pursue appeals based on prosecutorial misconduct, errors made by military Judge Col. Lind, and constitutional issues beginning with the US Army Court of Appeals sometime next year. The Support Network anticipates future challenges in federal court, and potentially even the Supreme Court. Manning has also filed an official application for executive clemency, giving President Obama the power to immediately reduce or even dismiss her sentence.