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Some think Bradley "Chelsea" Manning is a "gay hero", as this poster reads.  (Source: Truth Dig)
Manning's lawyer says gender issue is medical treatment, to deny request would be unethical

He's been convicted of one of the biggest leaks of confidential government information in the history of the U.S.  He's been sentenced to 35 years in prison, with the possibility of parole in 6 and 1/2 years, with time served.  But even as the debate over the young former U.S. Private First Class (PFC) continues, Mr. Manning has issued a statement triggering a brand new debate.

I. Manning: Call Me Chelsea

At a press conference after the sentencing, David Coombs, Manning's lawyer remarked, "[And we are looking into] ensuring that a soldier who is in confinement who has gender dysphoria gets treatment."

That subtle comment might have been lost amidst the interest in his flashy comments about Manning's innocence and his bid for a presidential pardon.  But on Thursday Mr. Coombs read a statement from Manning revealing just how serious the leaker is about his desire to undergo gender reassignment.


His attorney read the letter on NBC's TODAY show, which read in part:

I am Chelsea Manning. I am female.  Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.

I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).  I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.

He signed the letter "Chelsea E. Manning"

Bradley Manning sign
Convicted leaker Bradley Manning, asked to be refered to as Chelsea and want taxpayer funded sex change surgery while he/she is imprisoned. [Image Source: BradleyManning.org]

It should be noted that Mr. Manning, openly gay since his teen years, was bullied over his sexuality in the military and at the time of his 2010 arrest was reportedly pursuing sex change options.  He cited the bullying and his gender confusion as part of his motivation for leaking military secrets in a February plea deal, while asserting that his primary motivation was a belief that the leaks would help change the world view on U.S. public policys.  He admitted in an apology on Wednesday that his actions were naive and had unintentionally harmed the nation he vowed to serve.

II. Does Eighth Amendment Require Taxpayer Funded Sex Changes for Inmates

To say that Mr. Manning's request is controversial is an understatement.  Even some transgender advocates are decrying the request, as it would give the dishonorably discharged convicted criminal privileges that the U.S. military denies those who are serving and are honorably discharged.

Currently, the U.S. Military's policy is not to pay for the actual operative part of gender reassignment.  It does provide discrete sexuality counseling, and since President Obama's rollback of "don't ask don't tell" has allowed gay/transgender individuals to enlist.  The Department of Veterans Affairs additionally provides hormone treatments for honorably discharged soldiers -- an elective procedure not offered to to active servicepeople.

But in the general U.S. prison system there's some momentum to force taxpayers to pay for inmates sex reassignment surgeries.  With some experts claiming it's a simple matter of medical ethics, the fight is likely to eventually be taken up by the Supreme Court.  The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sets precedent for South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia in January overturned a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia to toss Virginia inmate Ophelia Azriel De'Lonta's lawsuit seeking gender reassignment.  

Ophelia De'Lonta
Ophelia De'Lonta, a Virginia inmate who was born male and identifies as a female, won his/her case to have a Viriginia Federal Court reconsider overturning a state ruling that sex reassignment should be taxpayer funded. [Image Source: AP]

A state judge had previously order that the inmate -- who threatened to seriously injure himself/herself otherwise via self-castration if sex reassignment was not provided -- receive the requested surgeries/therapies.  But the federal court tossed the case.  Now it will be forced to debate the issue on the grounds of the finalclause of the Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

De'Lonta is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

According to The Encyclopedia of Surgery a male to female sex reassignment costs between $7,000 to $24,000 USD, while a female to male sex reassignment costs over $50,000 USD.  Other expensive inmate surgeries have been paid for by taxpayers for over two decades, such as plastic surgery.

Prison population  U.S. prison population
The U.S. is number one in imprisonment. [Image Source: Prospect.org]

Any new treatment allowance to inmates is a big deal from a taxation and federal budget perspective, as the U.S. imprisons a higher percentage of its citizens than any other nation in the world.

Sources: Bradley "Chelsea" Manning, NBC TODAY Show



Comments     Threshold


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RE: Well...
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 8/22/2013 1:12:41 PM , Rating: 0
They are both traitors, there is no difference between the two in that regard. Snowden's was premeditated which is why he made sure he skipped country before making the release. Manning did that shit from his FOB in the warzone, and was dealt with accordingly. The military has little tolerance for such things.

As for tax payers paying for this? The military doesn't want to set that sort of precedent, and you need to remember Military Justice and Punishment, is VERY different from the civilian equivalent.

Personally, hell will freeze before I pay for anyone's sex change operation.


RE: Well...
By DigitalFreak on 8/22/13, Rating: 0
RE: Well...
By Schrag4 on 8/22/2013 2:09:30 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Personally, hell will freeze before I pay for anyone's sex change operation.


Good luck with that. I assume you pay taxes. You're likely already paying for a marketing campaign that's trying to get people signed up for a program or two that you oppose (you're paying for those programs too). You're also paying the govt to spy on all of your communications. How exactly are you going to keep from paying for this guy's gender reassignment?


RE: Well...
By boobo on 8/22/2013 10:31:14 PM , Rating: 5
Whom is Snowden a traitor against? Can he be a traitor against the US when he informed the US people of something that was being done in the US to the US people against the US constitution?

Isn't the first loyalty of any loyal American to the country's Constitution and to the American people?


RE: Well...
By maugrimtr on 8/23/2013 8:54:00 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.


Snowdon gave information to journalists exposing unconstitutional activities by the NSA whose sole oversight is a secret court, the president and a paralyzed Congress (that the NSA lied to repeatedly). As far as I can tell, he's the only one who ever risked a long jail term to bring this to the public's attention.

Yeah, real traitor there. By the way, when do you intend raising the taxes on our tea?


“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls














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