Bradley Manning is Dead but Chelsea Manning is born

Will the sudden reveal of Manning’s true feminine identity change the US Army’s policy of transgendered discrimination?

Photo: rollingstone.com

Photo: rollingstone.com

Just a day after Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, the ex-US Army private announced her real identity as a male to female transgendered woman named Chelsea.

In a letter to Good Morning America, Manning said,

As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a 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)…

(read the full letter here)

The short 2-3 paragraph letter was signed Chelsea E. Manning. But given the sudden reveal of her identity paired with the US military’s inmate policies, that are discriminatory towards transgendered people, it’s not clear whether or not the prision officials at Fort Leavenworth will house Manning with women inmates or male inmates.

Typically in the US prision system, inmates that have yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery are placed with members of their birth-sex. Still, the actual military policy doesn’t have any set guidelines known to the public that address this kind of situation.

What’s known is that the military isn’t the slightest bit interested in helping Manning to make her transition from male to female in any way. In response to Manning’s request for hormone therapy, the Army made this iron clad statement,

Inmates at the United States Disciplinary Barracks and Joint Regional Correctional Facility are treated equally regardless of race, rank, ethnicity or sexual orientation…

The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder.

The USDB has implemented risk assessment protocols and safety procedures to address high risk factors identified with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

As it stands, the Army still believes transgendered people have a disorder. So it doesn’t seem likely that Manning will be able to use her imprisonment to transition, and any surgery she may want in the future is for sure off the table until she’s eligible for parole in ten years time, though Manning’s attorney David Coombs said that he hopes to have her paroled in seven if she isn’t pardoned first.

Coombs also emphasized that he’s ready to fight the Army’s system for his client’s right to hormone therapy while incarcerated.

I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so, -David Coombs

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