Many of us on the Progressive side really are unphased by Manning asserting his gender identity. Those of us who have friends who are trans-gendered or who embrace their own internal imperatives towards gender identity in the face of a bipolar gender world applaud his bravery. There is no greater freedom than to break from the co-called normative arrangements of socially described gender roles and identity. And because what is considered normal by a majority might work in various permutations for most of us, as straight or in varying degrees of bisexuality, it is cruel and ignorant to impose that upon everyone. And if we truly uphold freedom,. Liberty and self-determination as the standard then the embrace and definition-or lack of one-of an individual’s sexual and/or gender identity must be of their own choosing.
Just to be clear, what I mean by bi-polar sexual and gender identity is simple. Much of humanity is entrapped in assumptions, all too often laced with hostility, violence and secret self recriminations about individual identity. It is assumed that there are men and women, both with clearly defined and god-given sexual parts meant to fit in a specific and holy way. Indeed, recently a Mexican legislature proposed anti-homosexual measures against marriage because, in her words, homosexuals can’t get married because they don’t look each other in the eyes when they have sex. Setting aside a bit of a creep factor, and a glaring lack of coital imagination, and web pages filled with Karma Sutra positions which all but eliminate the possibility for eye contact, not to mention joint dislocation, it is nice to know that Michelle Bachmann has a cousin south of the border.
Still, I can’t help but wonder what the fallout will be for others not in the media spotlight that face or struggle with issues of gender and sexual identity in a frequently inconsiderate world. For too much of the human race there remains too great a stigma against anything that deviates from ideas of bi-polar sexual and gender identity. The Manning revelation seems suited for a media dead set on affirming predetermined gender roles. The Rightwing media made great sport of it today. Lost was the substantive conversations by real people who struggle daily outside of the spotlight, whose stories are not sensationalized, but are characterized by those around them and the communities in which they exist, people, like my very dear friend, Rebecca Kling.
Last year Rebecca, who starred in my first Play, wrote a book about her transgender reality called No Gender Left Behind. http://www.amazon.com/Gender-Left-Behind-Rebecca-Kling/dp/1481115561/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354819641&sr=8-1&keywords=rebecca+kling. Educator, activist and performer, Rebecca’s book was one of the most intimate and honestly rendered narratives I have come along in a very long time. But her story and approach to this issue is quieter and deeply personal, not a target hoisted by a media meant to poke fun, marginalize or mock as anything that challenges the so-called norm.
Bradley manning, whom the media has already described as a traitor, simply becomes a larger target in this “revelation.” Those searching for identity, or fearing the discrimination from the status quo are not served at all by this attention to Manning. In my very humble opinion they are done the greatest disservice by it.
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