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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:]

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:]

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

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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Reclaimer77 on 8/22/2013 3:23:01 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone understand them?

Look I get that you are bound to defend your client, by law, to the best of your ability. I'm all for that.

What I just do not understand is this culture of legal chicanery that seems to have taken over the legal profession, where lawyers create the most fantastical arguments, fake syndromes, and other circus-like arguments for their clients.

Manning is already sentenced. The trial is OVER! You're making a mockery of yourself and the entire profession. This is a joke!

RE: Lawyers
By boeush on 8/22/2013 8:20:07 PM , Rating: 2
lawyers create the most fantastical arguments, fake syndromes, and other circus-like arguments for their clients
I didn't know that gender identity disorder was invented by lawyers.

Those wily bastards, they have entire swaths of science and medicine fooled!

RE: Lawyers
By Reclaimer77 on 8/22/2013 8:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
I was making a generalized statement not specific just to this case., but umm okay, you really got me there champ. Bravo.

RE: Lawyers
By FITCamaro on 8/23/2013 3:08:18 PM , Rating: 2
No just people who are trying to create reasons why we need to pity them for their mental problems. And now to create a reason as to why we need to pay for their disfiguring surgery.

If you want to take the scientific view on it, gay people are in fact sick from a disease or mental problem that causes them to be attracted to the sex other than nature intended. Of course that's not politically correct so it's never framed that way.

RE: Lawyers
By Cloudie on 8/23/13, Rating: 0
RE: Lawyers
By Reclaimer77 on 8/23/2013 5:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
The only biological reason for sex is reproduction, which is precluded when you have same-sex intercourse. I think that's all he meant.

Didn't you just say I needed anger management? Chill :)

I think it's just crazy that people are trying to portray sex-changes as some kind of health issue, and expect others to help pay for it. These are just wacky times we live in, where even the junk you were born with between your legs gets politicized.

RE: Lawyers
By Cloudie on 8/23/13, Rating: 0
RE: Lawyers
By Reclaimer77 on 8/24/2013 8:37:27 AM , Rating: 2
Uhh I don't have children either, but I enjoy sex of course.

I specifically said BIOLOGY. The biological reason for sex is, duh, reproduction.

Your entire second paragraph is going into places that I never did, or even suggested. I didn't say any of that!

It is a health issue.

Sorry but that's where I draw the line. Be gay all you want, I don't care. Marry who you want, I don't care. But mutilating your genitals to satisfy some perverse mental issue is where I draw the line. There is something just so fundamentally wrong with that, it cannot possibly be described as a "health issue" in any rational sense.

Manning is an obvious male right down to the meat and two veg. I'm sorry he has some mental sickness where he feels like he's a woman. I feel I should be taller with hair that lasted into my 40's at least, but oh well, we don't all get what we want in life. That's what therapists are for.

RE: Lawyers
By boeush on 8/23/2013 6:03:17 PM , Rating: 2
... to take the scientific ... gay people are in fact sick from a disease or mental problem
Sure, you can take that view. Of course, if you truly insisted on being scientific about it, you'd have to acknowledge that this disease, except perhaps for its most mildest forms, is presently incurable and that there exists no known or foreseeable therapy to treat its symptoms.

As such, there's no more or less reason for you to "pity them for their mental problems" or "pay for their disfiguring surgery", than there would be with respect to congenitally blind or deaf people, people born with Down's syndrome, dwarfism, etc.
Of course that's not politically correct
What's actually not politically correct, and in fact not morally acceptable and just plain vicious and nasty, is to heap dismissive ridicule and peer-pressure-backed abuse upon such, effectively congenitally disabled, people.

RE: Lawyers
By Dr of crap on 8/26/2013 2:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
Please, just let the inmates have a punching session with him over the course of a few weeks and see if he really NEEDS to be a girl!!

Sorry, you "feel" you should be a female, here's a dress, go play Barbie's !!!!

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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