Poll: Is Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning entitled to a sex change while in prison?

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."

Bradley Manning wearing a wig as Chelsea Manning

Bradley Manning wearing a wig as Chelsea Manning

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


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  • Manning is in the military, taxpayers were going to pay for it either way. Military personnel have taxpayer-funded healthcare.

    I know several women with husbands in the military. Through their husband's health insurance, taxpayers have paid for their gastric bypasses, boob jobs, and nose jobs. And that is much more common than hormone therapy for a sex change.

    If people want to get upset about something. THAT'S what they should be upset about.

  • Chelsea has an uphill fight ahead of her. For those who believe that hormone therapy and GRS (gender reassignment surgery) doesn't fall into necessary medical care and procedures, let me remind you that the transgender community has the highest rate of suicide attempts than any other group or ethnicity. Unfortunately we lose too many transgender men and women every year to suicide. These procedures are medically necessary for the health and welfare of the transgender community in and out of prison.
    Let me also remind you that in my view, no matter what the government says, the military doctors are ethically bound to treat Chelsea in her best interests. From the Hippocratic oath, "That above all else I will serve the highest interests of my patients through the practice of my science and my art; That I will be an advocate for patients in need and strive for justice in the care of the sick."
    Facing a life in a body that is not congruent to who you really are is torture. I know - I live it every day. I truly hope that Private Manning receives the treatment she seeks and is able to begin the long journey to who she is inside.

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