Target: Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale of the US Army
Goal: Call for the transfer of Private Chelsea Manning from a military to a civilian detention center so that she can receive medical treatment for gender dysphoria
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently gave the US Army approval to transfer soldier Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley, to a civilian prison so that she can undergo supervised gender dysphoria treatment. The Army is currently reviewing this request.
Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing classified documents to WikiLeaks, has asked for hormone therapy and the right to live according to her own gender identification. Having been diagnosed with gender dysphoria by multiple military doctors, Manning’s requested treatment was officially approved last November. Despite this approval she still has not received any treatment and has since filed an official complaint.
Since transgender people are not currently allowed to serve in the military the Department of Defense (DoD) does not provide transgender treatment. This presents Army officials with a conundrum. Civilian prisons do provide treatment, but transfers do not generally occur until after all military appeals have been exhausted and the individual has been discharged from military service. Manning is still considered a soldier and so under current rules cannot be discharged until she serves her full sentence.
Although this transfer would be an unprecedented move for the Army, multiple officials have stated that keeping a transgender person in military prison without access to treatment amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Secretary Hagel has stated publicly that the prohibition on transgender individuals in the armed forces should be reviewed, so it is likely that this will help set a precedent for the future treatment of transgender servicemen and women. Urge the Army to allow Manning to get the medical treatment that she needs by transferring her to a civilian prison.
Dear Lt. Col. Breasseale,
Chelsea Manning’s sentence of 35 years did not include a mandate that that time must be spent in a body that does not conform to her gender identification. Research has found that genetic variation, hormones, and atypical brain structures and functioning provide a likely biological cause for gender dysphoria. No one should be made to suffer because of a condition they were born with.
Although transgender people are not currently allowed in the armed forces, I am hoping that someday soon that will change. In the meantime Manning should not be made to suffer because DoD rules have not caught up with modern medicine. Please transfer her to a civilian facility so that she can get the medical treatment she has requested and which her doctor has approved. To do any less amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: VictoriaOP via Wikimedia Commons