From The New Civil Rights Movement: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/u-s-v-bradley-manning-being-transgender-doesnt-mean-youre-unstable/news/2012/12/05/55477
by Zinnia Jones
on December 5, 2012
I’ve usually avoided talking about the trial of Private Bradley Manning, given that I’ve been directly involved with this situation before and I probably will be in the future. But I feel that certain recent developments in the case deserve to be addressed.
After he was arrested, he was detained in the brig at Marine Corps Base Quantico for nine months, and placed on suicide watch as well as “Prevention of Injury” status. During this time, he was effectively held in solitary confinement, he was not allowed to speak to other detainees, and he could only leave his cell for 20 minutes each day. He had to ask for toilet paper and then return it when he was done. He was required to remove all of his clothing at night and sleep naked, as well as stand at attention in the nude. Manning’s defense has been arguing that this treatment was unwarranted and constituted unlawful pretrial punishment. This could lead to the dismissal of some charges, or a reduction in sentencing. The prosecution, in turn, has argued that these conditions of his confinement were necessary and appropriate.
As part of this phase of the trial, the court heard the testimony of Master Sgt. Craig Blenis, who acted as Manning’s counselor during his detainment at Quantico. According to reporters covering the hearing, Blenis stated that Manning had sent two letters from the brig using the name “Breanna”, and he considered this a reason to place Manning on Prevention of Injury status. Blenis claimed that this was “not normal” and “not stable”.
There is a history of some uncertainty over how Manning identifies. Prior to his arrest, he had spoken to a gender counselor online, and said he felt that he was female. He told his superiors in the Army that he had gender identity disorder, which he talked about in his conversations with Adrian Lamo. He also set up Twitter and YouTube accounts under the name “Breanna Manning,” and listed this as an alias when he was first confined at Quantico. However, the Bradley Manning Support Network have stated that he prefers to be addressed as Bradley, and when I talked with people who are in close contact with Manning, they all told me he currently identifies as male.
None of this is conclusive, and anything is possible. People who are trans don’t always know it.