The True Bradley ‘Chelsea’ Manning Story is Stranger Than Fiction

Because Manning was gay, upset with the military and transgender, his cause proved irresistible.

By Michael Brown Published on June 12, 2017

Imagine this scenario for a moment. You are a budding novelist, and you present a new proposal to your agent. The agent looks it over and sends it back, assuring you no publisher would ever go for it. “It’s just too far-fetched,” you are told. “Best to go back to the drawing board.”

What was the scenario you concocted? It went like this.

The Plot

There was a gay private in the army who gained access to a cachet of nearly one million secret military documents. When his gay lover broke up with him, he was depressed. So he decided to download and release these documents, likely costing the lives of our men and women on the field.

He was tried and convicted of crimes against the state and sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, while in prison, he insisted he was actually a woman, not a man. Eventually, the government paid for his sex-change surgery, after which the president decided to commute his sentence. After which he was hailed as a national hero and did his first TV interview, now as a woman.

Well, I could see why a publisher would reject such a story. Who would ever believe a narrative like this? It strains credulity — especially the part about this guy becoming a national hero. But, as the saying proves true once again, truth is stranger than fiction.

The Truth of Bradley Manning

As you realized from the opening lines of this article, this is the true story of Bradley “Chelsea” Manning, not the plot of some far-fetched fiction novel.

Welcome to America, 2017, the country that generates headlines like this: “Transgender man and father-of-two adopted children happily announces he is pregnant with his gay husband, a year after suffering a miscarriage.”

Now that Bradley is Chelsea, how could he not be an LGBT hero? Being “courageous” enough to transition from male to female (or vice versa) as a public figure is the instant path to fame. Then, getting pardoned by the president — what more could you ask for?

Try to wrap your brain around that one for a while. A transgender man is pregnant. He has a gay husband. He previously suffered a miscarriage.

In other words, this is a woman who identifies as a man, who is “married” to a man who is attracted to men (even if they have female private parts and woman), and “he” is now pregnant after having a miscarriage.

It reminds me of another story I read some years ago in the Village Voice, originally published in 2000 (yes, 17 years ago). It was titled, “Two Dads with a Difference: Neither of Us Was Born Male.” (Check out the couple’s picture here.) As the article, written by one of the “Dads” explained, “We are transgendered men (female-to-male, or FTM). My boyfriend is the mother of my child.”

So, in this case, two women, apparently attracted to men, chose to identify as gay men. But at least one of them still had her female organs and so could conceive and give birth to a child. (I wonder what happened to that precious child?)

Against backdrops like this, I guess the Bradley-Chelsea Manning story isn’t that unbelievable at all, if not for the political intrigue.

According to reports in 2010, “The US Army intelligence analyst, who is half British and went to school in Wales, appeared to sink into depression after a relationship break-up, saying he didn’t ‘have anything left’ and was ‘beyond frustrated.’

“In an apparent swipe at the army, he also wrote: ‘Bradley Manning is not a piece of equipment,’ and quoted a joke about ‘military intelligence’ being an oxymoron.”

Manning claims that he released the documents to Wikileaks because “I have a responsibility to the public.” Our military, he argues, was covering up atrocities we committed against our enemies. So with little or no thought to the consequences of his actions, he decided to play the hero.

Not Everyone in the LGBT Community is Applauding

Interestingly, although Manning has become an LGBT icon, not everyone in the LGBT community has celebrated his actions.

Writing for in 2012, James Kirchick declared, “Bradley Manning is No Gay Hero.” He felt Manning disgraced the names of gays who had served with distinction in the military, writing, “Rather than claim Bradley Manning as a hero of the gay community and campaign for his release, we should be the ones advocating most loudly that he face the strictest possible punishment for his treachery.”

But now that Bradley is Chelsea, how could he not be an LGBT hero? Being “courageous” enough to transition from male to female (or vice versa) as a public figure is the instant path to fame. Then, getting pardoned by the president — what more could you ask for?

I seriously doubt that Bradley Manning would have been pardoned by the president if he had been a conservative, heterosexual Christian. And I seriously doubt that he would have been hailed as a hero by other conservatives, even if felt it his duty to expose alleged military abuses.

But because he was: 1) gay; 2) upset with the military; and 3) transgender, his cause proved irresistible.

A Surprise Twist?

So, maybe you can write that novel after all.

Or better still, how about adding a surprise ending to the plot, a real twist? Chelsea Manning has a radical encounter with God, resulting in a dramatic conversion, after which he goes back to being Bradley, marries a fine Christian woman, and spends the rest of the years undoing the damage he did.

I would buy that book.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Patmos

    To say the Lord is longsuffering is quite an understatement at this point.

    • Jackie

      @Patmos; Yes, Yes, Yes, Exactly.

  • Gary

    You can be assured that if Manning was a heterosexual, Obama would never commute his sentence. He would still be in jail.

    I refuse to go along with the attempt of people like Manning and Obama to pretend reality is whatever you want it to be.

  • davidrev17

    Just more evidence of the Bible’s teaching on God’s law of sowing & reaping in action.

    And this reality has been so powerfully on display for decades now, especially when we correlate these textbook examples of moral anarchy – with the death of the Judeo-Christian God in the West; thus the death of absolute “objective” truth, has since been manifesting its mind-numbing, incoherent corollary amongst “We the People” – aka the absolute “subjective” truth of moral relativism?? (i.e., Hosea 8:7; Galatians 6:7-8??)

  • Ken Abbott

    Regarding that “surprise ending”–it’s happened before. See the testimony of Walt Heyer.

  • m-nj

    if i understand the facts correctly,

    “…he insisted he was actually a woman …the government paid for his sex-change surgery…”

    then this part of the surprise ending is not possible….

    “after which he goes back to being Bradley, marries a fine Christian woman…”

    he can live as a woman or as a celebate eunuch, but he can’t really live as a man.

  • Billy Chickens

    You forgot the story about the British couple. This is a true story. A man and woman – Felix and Helen – both had transgender operations to become each other. Helen, the woman who was the wife is now a man named Felix, who is the husband of her former husband, Felix, who was a man but is now a woman named Helen who is the wife.

  • FreemenRtrue

    Manning would need an exorcism before anything else.

History is His Story
Dwight Longenecker
More from The Stream
Connect with Us