Let's start off at the obvious point: Bradley Manning was a hero. Chelsea Manning is a hero. Let there be no doubt about this, either in a grammatical or any other sense.
Was, is. Powerful words.
This tense grammar seems to be causing all kinds of confusion all around the world right now. On the one hand, those who most avidly supported Bradley have no real reason not to support Chelsea. It's the same person, the same act of heroism and the same overly harsh sentence for the crime of telling the truth. Nothing has changed, and she is as worthy of our continual support as she ever was.
On the other hand, some people are equipped with brains that automagically shuts down at the very mention of gender. These people are, at this very moment, very confused as to what to think. The hero, the gender, the mental breakdown -
Let there be no doubt about the hero status of Chelsea Manning. In any sense. Not even the grammatical one.