[Vision2020] Military approves hormone therapy for Chelsea Manning
thansen at moscow.com
Fri Feb 13 14:50:10 PST 2015
Courtesy of USA Today at:
Military approves hormone therapy for Chelsea Manning
WASHINGTON — In a first for the Army, Chelsea Manning, the convicted national-security secrets leaker, has been approved for hormone therapy for transition to a woman at the Army's Fort Leavenworth prison, according to a memo obtained Thursday by USA TODAY.
Manning remains a soldier as well as an inmate.
"After carefully considering the recommendation that (hormone treatment) is medically appropriate and necessary, and weighing all associated safety and security risks presented, I approve adding (hormone treatment) to Inmate Manning's treatment plan," Col. Erica Nelson, the commandant of the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas, wrote in a Feb. 5 memo.
Formerly named Bradley Manning, the soldier was convicted of sending classified documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence and is eligible for parole in about seven years.
At Manning's trial, her attorneys argued she had been disillusioned by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and believed the release of the documents, including diplomatic cables and military reports, should be seen by the public.
Manning sued the federal government for access to the treatment. The Army referred questions about Manning to the Department of Justice, which has been handling the case. Nicole Navas, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment, saying the government's position is detailed in court filings.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Manning in the case, did not have an immediate comment on the Army's memo.
Manning had asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman. Transgender individuals are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military and the Defense Department does not provide such treatment. The Department of Veterans Affairs, however, does provide the treatment for veterans.
The Army's decision means it is simply fulfilling its obligation to provide Manning with medical care, said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, an advocacy group based in Washington. Manning has been diagnosed with a medical condition, and failing to treat it would be "cruel and unusual punishment," she said.
"If she has a heart attack, they have to treat that, too," Keisling said. "This is no different."
Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, said Thursday that Manning's fame would allow her to collect funds for treatment privately, through fundraising.
"There are plenty of other ways to address this situation than to put taxpayers on the hook for it," he said.
It's not clear from the memo when treatment will begin. Nelson also wrote that she approved a recommendation not allowing Manning "female hair grooming" based on risk assessment.
Last month, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told USA TODAY the ban on transgender troops is likely to be reassessed and should be lifted.
A report by former U.S. surgeon general Joycelyn Elders, sponsored by a LGBT advocacy group, noted that denying transgender troops hormone treatment is inconsistent with treatment offered to other troops. The report estimates that there are 15,000 transgender troops in the ranks.
Legal, medical and mental health professionals, even the Veterans Affairs Department, recognize that transgender men and women can qualify for medical treatment. The VA won't pay for veterans to have sexual reassignment surgery but it will pay for hormone treatment and counseling for those who qualify.
From 2001 to 2011, there were 3,177 veterans diagnosed with gender identity disorder, according to the VA. The number is increasing annually, it says. About one in 11,000 male babies and one in 30,000 female babies are born with gender identity disorder, according to the Veterans Health Administration.
Former Army Sgt. Bradley Manning now goes by Chelsea Manning and is undergoing hormone therapy.
Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .
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