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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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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.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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