By Kate Bornstein
Editors’ Note: We are aware that Chelsea Manning will not have
access to this open letter right away. According to the Leavenworth
prisoners’ handbook, Manning will not have Internet access, so we will physically mail this to her (there’s a whole procedure to follow if we want it to get to her, and we have to use her “Bradley” name and prison number, once it’s assigned), so if anyone wants to also send the physical letter, please do.
Hello. My name is Kate Bornstein. I invite you to think of me as your whacky old aunt who loves you very much, and wants only the very best for you. I’m 65—a very old lady, indeed. I was born boy in 1948. I legally became girl in 1986 at the age of 38—I was 10 years older than you when I openly began my transition in 1983.
But enough about me. Let’s get right to you, missy. I know—well, the
whole web-connected world has access to the information—that you’ve lived through the horror of “extreme solitary confinement” for months on end. You are the surrvivor of over-the-top cruel and unusual punishment, the kind of cruel and unusual punishment you’re likely to face over the next decade, honey, when you face active and potentially violent opposition to you simply being the girl you know you are.
It’s easier to use the labels boy and girl than man and woman.
Men and women—both cisgender and transgender—are very possessive about those labels, so I’ve found it easier to claim neither gender as my own. A lot of people are upset with you because you’re tampering with the notion of what it means to be a woman. I do that too—I break the laws of gender. So, I call myself a Gender Outlaw. My neither/nor gender status has been a choice. Your current in-between gender state has been forced on you, and it breaks my heart. I wish I could hug and comfort you.
continue reading here: Open Letter: Kate Bornstein to Chelsea Manning | Out Magazine.