Well we sure didn't see this coming. Bradley Manning has come out as transgendered. The Army private who was just sentenced to 35 years for giving classified documents to WikiLeaks says she wants to live life as a woman. Manning says she has identified as female since childhood. At least one of her Army superiors knew, but told no one. Manning wanted to wait until after her trial to reveal that she is transgender.
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.
Manning wants to undergo hormone therapy. She is expected to be sent to prison at Ft. Leavenworth, but hormone therapy is not available at that facility. At any rate, in the statement, Manning says she wants to be referred to now as female.
Manning's gender identity issues came up during her trial. One example: In 2010 she sent an email to her supervisor, Master Sgt. Paul Adkins, revealing her gender-identity disorder. She told Adkins that she'd hoped enlisting in the Army would help, but if anything her struggles were intensifying as she grew older. Adkins kept Manning's revelation secret because the private's skills were essential to their mission -- Manning was an intelligence analyst in Baghdad at the time. Plus, "I really didn’t think at the time that having a picture floating around of one of my soldiers in drag [was] in the best interest of the intel mission," Adkins says. Manning's defense said that her gender identity issues were part of the reason why she decided to leak the classified documents.
Wow, okay ... I know people are going to disagree with me here, but I feel for Manning. That must have been such a torturous conflict for her. It kind of does put her leaks into a different light. Maybe she felt like her life was impossible already, so she had nothing to lose.
Now the question is whether or not she'll be allowed to get that hormone therapy. Is she entitled to that, now that she is no longer a free person? My guess is she'll have to undergo some sort of psychological evaluation to determine if denying hormone replacement therapy would be considered harmful to her mental health. After everything she's been through, I think she should get the therapy. She's already going to prison for 35 years -- why intensify her suffering?
But the Army does not provide hormone therapy, nor will the Army pay gender reassignment surgery, so it doesn't look good for Manning. I worry about how she'll be treated in prison with this new revelation, too. I can't imagine she'll be treated gently. Prison is tough for anyone, but Manning will be especially vulnerable. I hate to think her punishment will be worse than the court decided she deserves. Her lawyer says he's still hoping Manning will get a pardon.
Do you think Bradley/Chelsea Manning should receive hormone therapy?
Image via Today