Now that Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government documents to the website WikiLeaks, she* proclaimed in a statement read on Today. "I am Chelsea Manning. I am female."
She announced that while in prison she will "begin hormone therapy as soon as possible." And, she added, "I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun."
Sure, Manning can change gender if she wants. But the question is whether taxpayers are automatically required to do so in prison, as Manning presumes. Perhaps there's a way for Manning to privately finance it. In any case, NBC reported in a Tweet:
On Bradley Manning, US Army says it does not provide hormone therapy, sex-assignment surgery for gender identity disorder
Except, not so fast. If Manning doesn't receive the therapy while imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, she indicated that he might sue.
Could this be the next civil rights issue? Will this be the next battle in the culture wars? Dare anyone say that Manning isn't entitled to the treatments or that taxpayers must pay for it without being called a nasty word? Is it cruel and unusual punishment to force Manning to wait until parole at least seven years hence?
As The Week reported, "What happens now that Bradley Manning is Chelsea Manning?"
The issue has come up before, most recently in Wisconsin when a federal appeals court struck down a state ban on hormone therapy for inmates. Wisconsin passed the Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act in 2005 in response to fears that taxpayers were footing the bill for sex changes.
Ultimately, the court ruled, banning hormone therapy was unconstitutional, noting that if "inmates with cancer must be treated only with therapy and painkillers, this court would have no trouble concluding that the law was unconstitutional."
In further elaboration, the publication reported:
If she does eventually decide that she wants surgery, however, she might be able to successfully sue for that as well. In 1999, Michelle Kosilek, formerly Robert Kosilek, filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Department of Correction for not providing her with treatment for her gender identity disorder.
Kosilek, serving a life sentence without parole for murder, won her case in 2002 and started receiving hormone treatments and psychotherapy. In 2012, after she tried to castrate herself and commit suicide, a federal judge ruled that sex-reassignment surgery was the "only adequate treatment" treatment for Kosilek. The court decision is currently pending on appeal by the state of Massachusetts.
So, let's ask:
Filed under: Sex