Chelsea Manning Lawyer Blasts Transfer to Civilian Prison for Therapy

Image: Chelsea Manning Lawyer Blasts Transfer to Civilian Prison for Therapy In this July 2013 file photo of convicted WikiLeaks informant Chelsea Manning transgender soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 04:35 PM

By Jonna Lorenz

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The Pentagon has approved a transfer of convicted WikiLeaks informant Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison where she could receive treatment for her gender disorder, The Associated Press reports, but the lawyer for the transgender soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning says it would force his client to choose between the treatment and her personal safety.

Manning is at a military prison at Fort Leavenworth serving a 35-year sentence for leaking hundreds of thousands of government files. She has requested hormone therapy, and the military has declined to act on the request for almost a year.

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Transgenders are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military, but Manning can't be discharged from the service while serving the sentence.

Citing anonymous sources, The Associated Press reported that the Defense Department was beginning discussions to work out a transfer plan with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, released a written statement in response to the story.

“The Pentagon’s strategic leak of this story to the media is a transparent attempt to pressure Chelsea into dropping her request for needed treatment under the artificial guise of concern for her medical needs,” he wrote.

He said a transfer would jeopardize Manning’s safety because the federal prison system doesn’t guarantee the same level of personal safety and security as the military prison system.

"Rather than deal with the reality that transgender persons are currently serving in the military, the military would seek to pawn off any responsibility for these individuals to other entities," Coombs wrote. "There is absolutely no reason that the Fort Leavenworth facility could not provide [hormone replacement therapy] to Chelsea, other than a self-imposed and regressive policy that is based on archaic views of transgender persons as sexual deviants."

Earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the military’s policy regarding transgender service members should be continually reviewed.

“Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it,” he said.

The medical needs of transgender people complicate the issue, he said, saying that the issue of transgender service members is “an area that we’ve not defined enough.”

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