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Bestowing Caitlyn Jenner the title of transgender heavyweight champion was possibly impulsive, but understandable. She’s incredibly famous, and if there’s anything Hollywood doesn’t want to do, it’s bash one of its own for any LGBT-related issue.

But really, what has the face of the transgender movement achieved to deserve such acclaim?

During her Arthur Ashe Courage Award acceptance speech, Jenner recognized her new responsibilities to educate Americans about transgender issues, such as “accepting people for who they are,” which is something the American people have grappled with since, well … forever.

If there’s one type of person the American people can’t accept at face value, it’s truth-tellers.

Private First Class Bradley Manning is a truth-teller. He told the truth about a U.S. helicopter firing on people who turned out to be Reuters journalists. He exposed the real number of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, which previously went underreported.

And how was he rewarded for exposing injustice? Pfc. Manning was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment in violation of the Espionage Act on Aug. 21, 2013.

The next day, after his sentencing, Bradley declared that he is a female named Chelsea and would like to begin hormone treatment in prison as soon as possible. There’s just one problem: “The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder,” according to an official Army statement.

On Feb. 12, 2015, for the first time ever, the Army approved hormone treatment for Pfc. Manning.

But look at what she had to go through just to be exactly who she has always been. Transgender individuals can’t serve in the Army, so she had to live as a man until her good morals got the best of her and she struck a deal with WikiLeaks.

She asked President Barack Obama for a pardon immediately after her sentencing, most likely in anticipation of the difficulty in getting treatment behind bars.

“I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society,” Manning said in her pardon statement. “I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.”

It’s a shame everyone is afraid to criticize Caitlyn Jenner for fear of social censure while unsung heroes like Chelsea Manning wither away because we fear being singled out.

We fear not having a seat at the table because we believe in something different from the pack.

We live in a world that punishes people for saying anything out of line, anything that goes against the status quo.

To question established figures like Peyton Manning, the U.S. government brings about an onslaught of attacks against the person who dared to stand up for what they believe.

Americans complain about a dishonest media, but when things get real the pitchforks come out.

I think it’s time we walked into the marketplace of ideas more open-mindedly so we can choose spokespeople who are little less fickle.

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Marissa Mahoney is contributing columnist for the Central Florida Future. 

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