The Curious Case Of Chelsea Manning’s Hormone Therapy
After being sentenced, Chelsea Manning will be imprisoned at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth. Unlike the federal or state prison systems, the Army Corrections Command manages this facility. In an unclassified document they explain that their facilities “will assist in providing medical and mental health care, counseling, and social services”.
When it comes to an inmate’s health, the standard operating procedure is to perform an initial medical, dental, and mental screening – including previous medical history, mental health problems, and even observations of the inmate’s behavior, such as state of consciousness and mental status. If an inmate has a mental disorder, such as bipolar disorder or even an anxiety disorder, their facilities will assist in carrying out the appropriate treatment, according to the Army Corrections Command.
So how is it that two libertarians are arguing that the government should provide Chelsea Manning with hormone therapy or treatment for her gender identity disorder? When it comes to the prison system, we agree that it’s an immoral institution and probably shouldn’t exist in any form that resembles its current structure. However, we must look at this issue within the system’s current framework and the reality of the situation, and sadly, that system is a government-run, military-run institution.
These prisons are already providing medical care to those with diabetes, cancer, bipolar disorder, and other legitimate, recognized mental disorders. Then why not treat gender identity disorder, which an Army psychologist previously diagnosed Manning?
As it exists today, prisoners are forced to rely on these facilities to provide necessities such as food, shelter, and medical care. So before you conclude that Chelsea shouldn’t force you to pay for her medical care, think about it this way – the government is forcing her to rely on them for all of her services since there is no way she can find an alternative, independent solution. Even the new Netflix original series Orange Is The New Black explores the complex issue of treating a transgender inmate in a woman’s prison, and the lack of options that exist for prisoners outside of the state-run prison system.
Prisons already offer psychiatric counseling for mass murderers, serial killers, and all sorts of violent offenders – yet the public outrage is eerily muted. Manning, on the other hand, is hardly a violent criminal. In fact, she is quite the opposite. But according to the recent outcry, receiving crucial medical treatment for being transgender (gasp!) is more of an outrage than paying for Charles Manson’s psychotherapy.
Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of this news-story-that-shouldn’t-be-news story is that Manning is imprisoned for exposing war crimes and other atrocities committed by the state, while the President received commendations like a Nobel Peace Prize – even though he continues to commit war crimes, violate the rule of law, and assault whistleblowers in direct opposition to his own word. The least we can do for a hero like Manning is give her the medical care she needs, hormones or otherwise. Given her situation, she can’t acquire them independently and must ultimately rely on the state, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.