Army: No Gender Reassignment for Manning

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Thursday, 22 Aug 2013 04:48 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The Army said Thursday it won’t provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for Pvt. Bradley E. Manning, who, a day after his sentencing for a massive leak of classified information to WikiLeaks, announced he’d serve out his 35-year-term as a woman.

Army spokesman George Wright told the Washington Times Manning will, however, have access to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

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

Manning, who identified as gay when he joined the military prior to the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, was convicted late last month of leaking 700,000 classified documents from the U.S. military and State Department to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks.

His sentence Wednesday came more than three years after the 25-year-old Army private was arrested in May 2010 while serving in Iraq. On Thursday morning, Manning released a statement to NBC’s “Today” saying he wanted to lead the rest of his life as a woman.

"I am Chelsea Manning. I am female," he wrote. "Given the way I feel and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.

"I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun," he said. "I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back."

But Wright said Manning will serve his sentence as a man.

The soldier’s lawyer, David Coombs, said if the Army won’t accommodate Manning’s desire to be a woman, he’ll "do everything in my power to force them to," the Times reported.

A Fort Leavenworth spokeswoman told Courthouse News earlier this week transgender inmates get nothing in prison "beyond psychiatric care." The prison keeps no demographics on their number of transgender inmates.

"All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioral science noncommissioned officers with experience in addressing the needs of military personnel in pre- and post-trial confinement," Lewis told the news service in an email.

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

Courthouse News noted, however, a number of federal judges have ruled that rejecting such treatment for transgender prisoners constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, citing a decision in Maryland in January that guaranteed the possibility of sex-reassignment surgery for all federal inmates in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina.

A Chicago court in 2011 ruled similarly, Courthouse News reported, striking down a Wisconsin law banning such medical care.


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