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Chelsea Manning Getting Gender Treatment, Report
Chelsea Manning Getting Gender Treatment, Report

Chelsea Manning Getting Gender Treatment, Report

According to a Pentagon official, the US Defense Department is considering a request from imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning to move her from a male military brig to a civilian prison to enable her to go through hormone therapy as part of her M-to-F transition.

Manning revealed her decision to live as, and be identified as, female the day after a military judge handed her a 35-year jail sentence. The timing was a significant reflection on the dehumanizing process that Manning had been subjected to during a protracted court martial process.

During court martial and pre-trial hearings, Manning referred to herself using the female name Breanna. Her lawyers argued that her judgment had been clouded by a struggle with gender identity problems. Photos that Manning took of herself dressed as a woman were used as evidence.

Pentagon press secretary RDML John F. Kirby released this statement on the matter: “The secretary approved a request by Army leadership to evaluate potential treatment options for inmates diagnosed with gender dysphoria. No decision to transfer Pvt. Manning to a civilian detention facility has been made, and any such decision will, of course, properly balance the soldier’s medical needs with our obligation to ensure Pvt. Manning remains behind bars.”

But Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center on Transgender Equality, said there is no dilemma, at least not in Manning’s case, which, from the start, has been in violation of the Constitution for not accommodating her health needs in prison.

“Chelsea Manning came out just after being convicted, when the DOD instantly said there was no way she could get treatment,” said Keisling. “We said, ‘Yes, they will — they are just wrong.’ Now they have done an analysis and understand there is a Constitutional requirement to provide health care treatment for prisoners.”

The 8th Amendment prohibits administering “cruel and unusual punishment” to prisoners. Keisling said NCTE “looks forward” to working with the Pentagon to “end these outdated rules that harm our military.”

“This is health care we are talking about — something the medical community is unified in believing is medically necessary treatment for a serious underlying condition. It’s efficacious and necessary for many people — and when a doctor says it’s necessary for a prisoner, the warden has to provide the health care. They can’t say no they won’t treat diabetes or cancer or a broken leg,” said Keisling.

Several court cases have affirmed the right to receive treatment for gender dysphoria in federal prisons.

A federal judge in 2012 ordered the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to provide sex reassignment surgery for Michelle Kosilek, a transgender woman serving a sentence for murder. He ruled that the state had violated the inmates’ constitutional rights in denying the surgery.

In federal prisons, guidelines for housing of transgender inmates in sex-segregated facilities are regulated by the Prison Rape Elimination Law.

An estimated 15,000 transgender people are serving in the military, according to NCTE, according to a 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

“They can’t even talk to a psychologist about this without being thrown out,” said Keisling. “And the psychologists can’t keep a secret. They have to report it out.”


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