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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



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By Arsynic on 8/22/2013 3:55:42 PM , Rating: 3
This is how left wing nutjobs further their agenda by immediately branding anyone with an opposing viewpoint as a "bigot". This way they aren't burdened with formulating a logical and compelling case for their point-of-view.

I understand, though. It's hard to put together a logical case when your point of view is purely emotional (i.e. irrational).


By Cloudie on 8/22/2013 4:50:07 PM , Rating: 2
There's 0 logic in homophobia or transphobia. It's sheer idiocy and ignorance.


By retrospooty on 8/23/2013 10:09:35 AM , Rating: 2
"There's 0 logic in homophobia or transphobia. It's sheer idiocy and ignorance."

I think most people agree with you there, and if they don't, they aren't worth speaking to... But this isnt about any sort of homophobia/bigotry at all. It's simply about medical costs in prison. Socially, I am as liberal as they come, anything anyone wants to do that inst hurting anyone else is fair game to me... I am all for people doing whatever they want... But in what planet should a convict's expensive sex change surgery be paid for by the govt?

How can anyone make a case where the prison medical system should foot the bill for this. Part of being in "prison" is a penalty for having committed a crime. It's not a free place, the very definition of it is quite the opposite.


By Cloudie on 8/23/2013 5:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
"I think most people agree with you there"

I hope you're right :)


By domboy on 8/23/2013 10:16:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
There's 0 logic in homophobia or transphobia. It's sheer idiocy and ignorance.


Actually, if you think about it logically, there kind of is. Now to preface, let me just state that I don't really care who or even what you want to sleep with.

Homosexuality is a reproductive (and evolutionary) dead end. So as a species, it's logically in our best interest to not be gay.

There is nothing natural about a transsexual human, as until recent technology and medical procedures enabled it, physically switching from one sex to another didn't and couldn't happen to a human. Nature or God (depending on your world view) gave a few creatures the innate ability to do so, but not humans. So I see nothing illogical about considering such a change as strange and unnatural.

Of course what I have written above is now politically incorrect, and we as a society are not allow to think such thoughts. And logic? Well that's a dangerous road to travel...


By retrospooty on 8/23/2013 10:23:43 AM , Rating: 2
Possibly, but humans have risen above nature on many fronts, it's no reason to discriminate. People should be allowed to do whatever the hell they want with their own bodies from piercings, to riding motorcycles without a helmet to sex change... With their own money . Asking the govt. to pay for it is ridiculous, and the legal system arguing for it is beyond ridiculous. At the end of the day, its an elective surgery period.


By domboy on 8/23/2013 11:04:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Possibly, but humans have risen above nature on many fronts, it's no reason to discriminate. People should be allowed to do whatever the hell they want with their own bodies from piercings, to riding motorcycles without a helmet to sex change... With their own money . Asking the govt. to pay for it is ridiculous, and the legal system arguing for it is beyond ridiculous. At the end of the day, its an elective surgery period.


oh I completely agree with you. And I'm not arguing for discrimination. Just the statement I responded to was very ill thought or maybe just poorly worded.


By Cloudie on 8/23/2013 5:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
"Homosexuality is a reproductive (and evolutionary) dead end. So as a species, it's logically in our best interest to not be gay."

Plenty of gay people have biological children. Being gay doesn't make you infertile. :) Moreover, there are many ways to contribute to the species than reproducing. Don't you know Alan Turing? He vastly improved knowledge of computers and AI amongst other things. He was gay. He has done more for our species than you & me times 1000000. No doubt you'd have had him reproducing rather than doing revolutionary science work and breaking enigma codes. ;) Also, all those children rotting in homes by useless heteros need taking care of.

Homophobia is not natural. It is not found anywhere in nature apart from humans. It has no evolutionary or benefit of any kind. Homophobia doesn't stop people being gay. It just makes people more miserable, wastes masses of time, talent and money. It's just a waste of life.

"There is nothing natural about a transsexual human, as until recent technology and medical procedures enabled it, physically switching from one sex to another didn't and couldn't happen to a human. Nature or God (depending on your world view) gave a few creatures the innate ability to do so, but not humans. So I see nothing illogical about considering such a change as strange and unnatural."

You're obsessed with sex change operations lol. Gravestones have been found of humans thousands of years old. A few females have been found buried in the typical graves of males (with weapons etc.) and vice versa. Now did they make a mistake? Or were these people what we now call 'transgendered'? I.e. they lived their lives in the gender and way that felt right to them. there have also been many occasions where 2 people of the same sex buried together like a couple.

"Of course what I have written above is now politically incorrect, and we as a society are not allow to think such thoughts. And logic? Well that's a dangerous road to travel..."

I've no interest how politically correct something is or isn't, personally. Politics isn't all that logical mostly. Religionists and bigots do absolutely anything to stifle and shut down the truth.


By Arsynic on 8/23/2013 12:00:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:

There's 0 logic in homophobia or transphobia. It's sheer idiocy and ignorance.

Why is everyone who disagrees with you an x-phobe or a bigot?


By Cloudie on 8/23/2013 5:38:24 PM , Rating: 2
What is there to disagree with? You have no argument. There is no benefit to homophobia lol. Not a single thing. It's just a waste of time/energy/money/resources/talent and human life.


By purerice on 8/28/2013 12:46:27 PM , Rating: 2
You are right there is no benefit to real "homophobia" but the term "homophobia" is all too often thrown around by people who simply want to silence speech that, while they are not offended by, they disagree with but have no valid argument against.

Here's an example: A conversation about policy with a co-worker who happened to be homosexual was interrupted by somebody seemingly heterosexual from outside the conversation who took his words out of context and accused him of homophobia saying "I'm straight but that type of talk is homophobic and intolerant". Who's really being intolerant there?


By MrBlastman on 8/23/2013 1:39:40 PM , Rating: 4
In being scared of them, yes. In disagreeing with their position, no. I'm tired of all this political correctness crap that tells us we must think everything is normal and equal--when in reality, they aren't depending on your perspective.

And that is what is important here to remember--perspective. Not everyone will share the same perspective. The PC crowd will immediately disagree with this notion. In their eyes, there is only one "correct" perspective and they only tolerate that one and none other. This is funny when they preach "tolerance," yet fail so greatly with it.

So, from their perspective, there is only one appropriate view. From others' perspective, there might be another--groups from various religions or social idealogoies. Now, some might argue that these groups are flawed and they very well might be. It doesn't mean they are wrong. They are allowed their own perspective on things and as such, should equally be considered no matter how offensive they might be (within reason).

For instance, Christians and Jews consider homosexuality to be a flawed existence. A deviation from the creators' intention of the body of man. While they (homosexuals) are considered wrapped in sin, the Christians/Jews are still taught to respect them and treat them as they would treat themselves. The Gay rights movement has serious apprehensions towards this. They find it appaling, as much as some (not all) Christians find homosexuals appalling. BOTH of these groups are equally at fault when they err towards the extreme of the issue. Both are bigoted and ignorant. Yes, that means that the LGBT community can be very bigoted. Likewise, at the same time, both the Christian/Jewish/LGBT community can also not be.

Does this make the Gay rights groups correct? No. Does this make the Christians correct? No. Does this mean the gays should be given special treatment? No. Does it mean the Christians should? No.

What it does mean is some sort of common ground should be found. Like it or not, some of this is here to stay. To some of us it can seem quite perverse and we might not agree with it. Equally so, the LGBT community should learn to tolerate these views and not be so forthcoming, open and "in your face" with their presentation of these matters.

Some of us don't give a darn about what they have to say, don't want to hear about it and would rather it be just another facet of an individuals "private life." We don't jump up and down and shout to the world, "Hey, I'm marrying my straight partner, going to adopt lots of children, donate to these charities and put a sticker on my car to showcase my family to the world!" Neither should they, the LGBT community.

Find the common ground, pass Civil Unions and move the term Marriage to the Chuch to only be endowed by a minister and move on. The world will be better off for all groups when this occurs.

One group will receive equality in the eyes of the law and the other groups will not have to hear about it constantly as it is rubbed in their face. That's tolerance and more importantly, normalcy.


By Cloudie on 8/23/2013 5:21:15 PM , Rating: 1
"Now, some might argue that these groups are flawed and they very well might be. It doesn't mean they are wrong"

Cultural Relativism. If you're wrong then you're wrong. End of story. Religion is superstitious nonsense. I respect everyone's right to hold their own opinions and be religious. But you can't use that to diminish other people's rights and demonise others just because some silly old book says so.

"For instance, Christians and Jews consider homosexuality to be a flawed existence"

Sweeping Statement alert. At the end of the day, the old testament says that wearing mixed fibres is a sin, eating shellfish is an abomination, planting 2 different type of crop side by side is a sin. And yet nobody makes a fuss about that. It also says that adulterous women (but not men) must be stoned to death. And yet stoning women to death is illegal...

So why is there this almighty fuss about sexuality? Why don't they protest outside seafood restaurants or outside clothes shops or fields?

Ultimately, it all boils down to how much privilege you believe religion should have in society. I believe it should have none. People should be able to worship as much as they want within the constraints of the law.


By MrBlastman on 8/26/2013 11:59:44 AM , Rating: 2
It is simple. The crux of the entire problem can be summed up by an old old saying: "The square peg doesn't fit in the round hole."

And there you have it.

That's why there is all this fuss. It boils down to the basic reproductive biology of all life on this entire planet. Life exists for a single purpose--to reproduce. If life can't reproduce, it dies off and is replaced by another species.

We're not talking about even religion here despite my use of it as example. We're talking about elementary biology and human, no, mammalian physiology. This is why it has remained an issue for millenia and will continue to be one.

Regardless, Humans are unique amongst other life on this planet in that we share both self-awareness and empathy. Most other life is very non-empathetic to others. While acceptance of a weaker evolution of life (i.e. humans that desire equal sexes) is completely illogical, our empathetic side (in some) sees a need to at least facilitate a pleasant stay on our planet for the odd-century the individual remains here. Thus, to my previous post, civil-unions will provide this accomodation.

Like it or not, though, the biological implications remain and will continue to tug at our psyche for eternity.


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