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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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RE: Well...
By Dribble on 8/23/2013 4:53:26 AM , Rating: 2
Yes it is a secret, but you are only keeping your secrets from the general public - people like me - everyone else knows. The truth of it is this level of secret is really only meant to be kept from the public because they don't "play the game", and might kick up a fuss if they knew all the laws that were being broken.

Manning and particularly Snowdens exposure is so terrifying for the NSA not because any foreign agency might be able to use the information (they already had it) but because the people they are meant to be protecting might use the information and actually stamp down on their illegal activities.


RE: Well...
By drevas3053 on 8/23/2013 10:23:44 AM , Rating: 2
No, again your lack of actual experience in the field gives you a badley mistaken point of view. We classify information to keep it out of the hands of our enemies, and occasionally our friends, not just the general public. You don't posses a working understanding of the subject. There is information that is reported in the Press that within the walls of the Intelligence Community is Classified as Secret. You tell me the rationale of that and your opinion might be credible. Otherwise it is just supposition without any real context. "Everyone" doesn't know our secrets, if they did it would be pointless to have them.


RE: Well...
By drevas3053 on 8/23/2013 10:52:25 AM , Rating: 2
One last thing, because if you don't understand now you never will, Spies exist for a reason. I was stationed in West Berlin in the late 70's. At that time it was one of, if not the largest, training ground for Russian and East Bloc Spies. I, and pretty much all of my buddies were approached by one of them at some point. Sometimes more than once. We thought it was a game. I was 17 at the time and thought I was SO smart. So one night at a Club one of them approached the group I was with. Unfortunately not a "Hot" Mata Hari type, it was a dude. So we decide to screw with the guy and feed him crap that sounded credible, but wasn't true. I didn't understand how STUPID that was until later after going to the Intelligence School and working in the field. As far as we knew the information was bogus, but it was close enough to the possibility that it could be true and we might have steered him to it. Get it?

There is an old Navy saying that "loose lips sink ships". I can assure you, the Commander of the Chinese Navy doesn't have the 7th Fleets Battle Plan on his Desk to be perused at his leisure. That Battle Plan is a SECRET.


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