It’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything about Private Chelsea Manning, also known as Bradley Manning, a dishonorably discharged soldier who was sentenced to 35 years for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. The last we heard from Manning was in August, when she had publicly come out as transgender and informed the world she wanted to be referred to as Chelsea. This announcement drew attention to the fact that she was being sentenced to confinement at Fort Leavenworth, an all-male prison. Keep reading »
At this point, we shouldn’t be surprised when Fox News does something terrible. And indeed, my general response to their ridiculous antics and rightwing pandering is to just sigh and roll my eyes. But this? The network using Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady” as the background and outro music for a story on Bradley Manning’s transformation into Chelsea Manning? Well, that’s so blatantly juvenile, the kind of move a bratty middle-schooler would make in order to assuage his own uncomfortable feelings about his sexuality, that we had to call them out on it.
This isn’t the first time the “fair and balanced” network has flubbed up its coverage of trans issues. Earlier this year, they used a photo of Mrs. Doubtfire to illustrate a story on transgender health coverage. Stay classy, Fox News. Stay classy. [Mediaite]
Now that Chelsea Manning has expressed a desire to medically transition through hormone replacement therapy, there are a lot of questions circling about what Leavenworth looks like for a trans woman, and how exactly someone might transition from male to female in prison. While Manning’s case itself is complicated, the question of what kind of healthcare someone deserves in prison is fairly simple. There are clear legal and moral arguments for Manning receiving hormones once they are prescribed by a doctor. This isn’t about what she did or did not do; it’s about the basic commitment we make as a society when we lock someone up.
When someone commits a crime, no matter how heinous, we still have an obligation as a society to provide their basic needs while they serve their time. As Lesley Kinzel argued when writing about the Michelle Kosilek case last year, “What makes us better than murderers is that we value human life, even the lives of those who don’t value life themselves, their own included.” Whether or not you agree with Manning’s release of classified information, we consider a decent life a collective value, enshrined in the basic rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. Courts have already held that the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment confers a right to adequate medical care in prison, and medical experts and courts have consistently found that hormone therapy is a medically necessary treatment for transgender people for whom it’s prescribed. Keep reading »
Bradley Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, announced in a statement read by his lawyer on “The Today Show” this morning that he intends to begin hormone replacement therapy and would like to be referred to as Chelsea. Manning, who from here on out I’ll refer to with female pronouns, is supposed to begin serving her sentence at Fort Leavenworth, which does not offer hormone therapy, but her lawyer, David Coombs, says he will fight to get her the medical treatment she needs. Manning has apparently identified as a trans woman for awhile, but didn’t make a statement about it during the trial because, Coombs said, “She didn’t want this to be something that overshadowed the case.” [MSNBC]