Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

August 24, 2013

Manning’s gender transition sets up legal showdown

-- — Bradley Manning is the first transgender military inmate to ask for hormone treatments, officials say, a request that could lead to a legal showdown over how — and if — the soldier convicted in the WikiLeaks case will be allowed to live as a female behind bars.

Current Pentagon policy dictates that transgender soldiers are not allowed to serve, and Manning won’t be discharged until being released from prison and all appeals are exhausted. Furthermore, the military does not allow soldiers to undergo hormone treatments while in the all-male prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. — though this is the first time officials have heard of a request for such treatment, said Maria Tolleson, a spokeswoman with the Army Medical Command in Arlington, Va.

“We’re just now dealing with the issue,” she said, adding it would be premature to say there has been any movement toward offering the care to all transgender inmates as a result of Manning’s case.

Manning also won’t be allowed to dress as a woman, as wigs and bras are not allowed. The soldier’s gender dysphoria — the sense of being a woman in a man’s body — coupled with the military convictions could leave Manning to face an isolated future, shunned by fellow inmates and transgender veterans on the outside who believe the leaks put Manning’s comrades in danger.

It is not known whether Manning could be transferred to a female prison, though defense attorney David Coombs has said that was not the motive behind the Army private’s statement Thursday asking to be referred to by feminine pronouns, signed “Chelsea E. Manning.”  

On NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday, Coombs vowed to “do everything in my power to make sure that they are forced” to ensure Manning is provided with the hormone treatment, suggesting a lawsuit could be in the offing if the military doesn’t comply. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, along with other advocates, also say Manning should get the treatment.

Coombs didn’t respond to telephone and email messages Friday from The Associated Press.

It’s not clear whether Manning directly requested the therapy, which typically involves high doses of estrogen to promote breast development and other female characteristics, at Fort Leavenworth after arriving Thursday.

Fort Leavenworth spokeswoman Kimberly Lewis said Manning’s prison processing would include meeting with medical and mental health staff and determining where the inmate will be assigned in the population. Manning was diagnosed with gender identity disorder by an Army clinical psychologist while serving in Iraq in 2010, and by a Navy psychiatrist who examined Manning last year, according to their court-martial testimony.

As of last year, civilian federal prisons are required to develop treatment plans — including hormone therapy, if necessary — for inmates diagnosed with gender identity disorder, now called gender dysphoria. Unlike military prisons, the policy also allows inmates who believe they are the wrong gender to dress and live accordingly as part of their individual treatment plans.

If the military refuses to provide the hormone treatment, Manning wouldn’t able to get it by other means until at least February 2020, the earliest the soldier could be released on parole. Transgender veterans can get help with hormone therapy and mental health counseling from the Veterans Administration after they leave the military. However, Manning would not be eligible because of the soldier’s dishonorable discharge.

Fort Leavenworth staff has some leeway to segregate Manning for protection, though such isolation can be punishing, said Bridget Wilson, who practices military law in San Diego.

Even if the inmate is not segregated, the soldier faces an isolated future because fellow soldier-prisoners may not look kindly upon Manning’s leak of more than 700,000 military and diplomatic records, Wilson said.

“Some of the most patriotic people you will ever meet are in military prisons,” she said. “They have more than one safety issue with Pfc. Manning.”

Manning also has found little sympathy among transgender veterans. Kristin Beck, a former Navy SEAL who began transitioning to life as a woman early this year, said on her Facebook page Thursday that “Manning is a tarnish on my dream” of equality for all.

The American Veterans for Equal Rights — an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender services members and veterans — said in a statement it condemns the action of any soldier who would publicize information that could endanger service members’ lives.

But former Army Lt. Dan Choi, a Manning supporter discharged for coming out as gay during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era, said military LGBT advocacy groups would embrace Manning’s quest if they could look objectively at the diplomatic duplicity and callousness toward civilian casualties the leaks exposed.

“I’m going to keep pushing, not just to the gay community but to all communities, because this is what the gay community should be about — must be about — is a declassification of your own closetedness, that is our main goal,” Choi said in a telephone interview from Washington.

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • AP4507280123 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, July 28, 2014
    Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year. 
     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • United States-Libya_Rich.jpg US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

    The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said “free-wheeling militia violence” prompted the move.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP9607270692 copy.jpg Today in History for Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Today is Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • No ticket for Shrek over loud musical, chief says

    A musical being performed in a New Hampshire park has drawn some noise complaints, but the deputy police chief says he’s “not giving Shrek a ticket.”

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona Execution Dru_Rich copy.jpg Arizona’s McCain: Execution was torture

    U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ukraine Plane_Rich copy.jpg US: Russia firing into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP7107260254 copy.jpg Today in History for Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Today is Saturday, July 26, the 207th day of 2014. There are 158 days left in the year.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Iraq_Rich copy.jpg Iraq elects new president amid attacks

    Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country’s new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of people and Islamic militants destroyed a Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah, underscoring the overwhelming challenges facing the divided nation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hong Kong Shutdown_Rich copy.jpg Hong Kong firms on edge as blockade looms

    As activists vow to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district in protest at China’s attempt to hobble democratic elections in the city, businessman Bernard Chan is preparing for the worst.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results