Document Type



Political Science​

Publication Date



This paper examines Chelsea Manning’s self-narration of her leaking of government documents. The press has classified her as a would-be whistleblower whose confusion over her sexuality and gender identity keep her from being an authentic truth-teller. I dispute this reading and argue for seeing Manning as an exemplar of what I call “transformative truth-telling”: a practice of truth-telling that challenges and seeks to transform dominant public/private distinctions that structure who counts as a proper truth-teller. I argue that reading Manning’s act in this way reveals the democratic promise and riskiness of truth-tellingand alerts democratic actors and theorists to the importance of cultivating broader and more generous democratic receptivities to truth-telling.


Originally published as:

Lida Maxwell. “Truth in Public: Chelsea Manning, Gender Identity, and the Politics of Truth-Telling." Theory and Event 18, no. 1 (January 2015).

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