Writing to Chelsea Manning

Don’t miss yesterday’s update on Mark “Migs” Neiweem of the NATO 5.

Join Operation PenPal: scroll to the bottom of this post to find out how to send solidarity to Chelsea and other political prisoners.

After receiving a 35-year sentence, Chelsea Manning formally came out as a transgender woman. Over at Dissenter, Kevin Gosztola calls the mainstream media to task for mistreating her, and outlines Firedoglake’s support of Manning’s gender identity.

For those of us who’ve supported Manning throughout the trials, she needs our solidarity now more than ever. She will serve her sentence in a men’s military prison and will have to fight a legal battle in order to get the hormone replacement therapy she desires and deserves. Like CeCe McDonald, she faces years of imprisonment in an environment hostile and dangerous to queer people. Transgender people in prisons face difficult struggles and are often forced to do time in solitary “for their own safety.”

It’s essential that we show solidarity with Chelsea Manning with our letters and postcards of support and respect her gender identity in our communications. Unfortunately, because she is incarcerated by the gender she was assigned at birth, mail sent to the jail must be addressed to Bradley Manning. But we should always use Chelsea Manning and female pronouns in any messages we write.

Tell Ft. Leavenworth provide Chelsea Manning with the proper treatment and therapy to complete her transition — or transfer her to a federal facility where such treatment is available.

From Operation PenPal‘s mailing list entry on Manning:

Manning released a statement confirming her gender as female and requesting feminine pronouns and her preferred name, Chelsea, be used. We respect and honor this request. However, mail to prisoners must bear their full legal name on the envelope to be delivered. As such, we are listing Chelsea’s legal name for mailing purposes only but request that you address her as Chelsea within the text of your letters.

Chris French, Another NATO Prisoner

Rachel Unterman and the crew at #OpPenPal are requesting support for another activist recently sent to prison for their actions at the NATO protests. Prosecutors accused Chris French (who prefers gender neutral pronouns) of breaking through a line of bicycle police to come to the aid of another activist. French was among those arrested in the chaotic scene around the NATO protests, which the city prepared for with an intense militarization of their police and weeks of scary propaganda. French was also one of the last to be bailed out.

French agreed to a plea bargain reducing charges from a felony to a misdemeanor. “The court gave Chris 364 days — a misdemeanor is capped at a year. They took a plea deal, but it wasn’t that good of a deal,” Unterman said. French does get credit for three months in jail, but faces as much as another nine months in prison. [cont’d.]

Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and Occupy.com.