Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning is escorted to a security vehicle outside a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Private Bradley Manning’s announcement this morning about identifying as a woman and hoping to receive hormone therapy while in prison prompted a live stream of criticism on how the public and media talk about trans issues.

Social media has lit up with transphobic comments in light of Manning’s declaration.  But for many in the trans community, social media monitoring isn’t only about defending Manning — it’s also about setting a precedent for how the media treats trans and LGBTQ topics.

“She is now a symbol,” wrote Jen Richards, a blogger for the site We Happy Trans, in a post that warned of what she expects will be a string of “terrible” media coverage. “Good luck to Chelsea and any trans person struggling to find their way.”

Within the transgender community, many observers praised Manning as a pioneer — and have taken her announcement, the highest-profile transgender story in recent memory, as an opportunity to educate.

Specifically, tweeters in the transgender community have been correcting the media’s use of male pronouns or the name “Bradley” to identify Manning. Trans Media Watch, an organization based in the U.K., has kept up a steady stream of tweets noting which stories identify Manning correctly and explaining to followers why the issue is important.


Other users have taken up the cause, tweeting at individual writers and editors and coining hashtags like #hernameisChelsea and #freeChelsea. Paris Lees is a trans British journalist who spent time in prison and has compared herself to Manning; Janet Mock and Parker Molloy are both trans writers.