personal essays

Chelsea Manning Addresses ‘Locker Room Talk’ in the Military

Manning. Photo: Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images

Chelsea Manning, former Army Intelligence analyst and adorably earnest tweeter, penned a personal essay for Yahoo Beauty where she discussed being gay and transgender in the military. Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of her coming out as transgender.

Manning spent seven years in prison for leaking documents to WikiLeaks, and came out as transgender the day after she was sentenced. She revealed in the new essay that the machismo of the military, and specifically how people would talk about women, wore on her.

The one place I never felt at all comfortable in the military was in private circles of conversation. There’s a tendency, especially among young men, to objectify and denigrate women behind closed doors. They’d say ridiculous, raunchy things about women — call them sluts and whores, basically just treat them like objects.

It was a line I just couldn’t cross. I’d try to avoid those kinds of macho

conversations, because that’s inevitably what would come up. I’d get very, very distant.

Manning later clarified that she loved her job in the military, but believes that if she had been out, she would have gotten along better with the culture.

There’s this idea out there that, had I not been trans, the leaks and stuff would never have happened. But to my mind those are two completely separate things. Had I been out, I think I still would have been attracted to the military, but I would have been more comfortable and gotten along with people better. Being closeted often put me in situations where I couldn’t concentrate or even think straight.

I loved my job, and had I been out, I think I would have been even better at it.

Manning said she’d also like to at least buy a coffee table, watch some YouTube eye shadow tutorials, and finish The Handmaid’s Tale before people ask her if she’s running for office. Give the girl a second to breathe and enjoy her dark lipstick in peace.

Chelsea Manning Addresses Locker Room Talk in the Military