Home > politics > The Curious Case Of Chelsea Manning’s Hormone Therapy

The Curious Case Of Chelsea Manning’s Hormone Therapy

Editor’s Note: This post was co-authored with Sandra Sanchez of The Individualist Feminist, where it originally appeared. Wanna know more about Sandra? Check out her concert photography!

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.

Manning’s gender identity and transition from Bradley to Chelsea shouldn’t be that much of a shock, especially to the United States Army, since an Army psychologist diagnosed Manning with gender identity disorder in 2010. If a psychologist can make a diagnosis of gender identity disorder then we can conclude the following: they were taught how to diagnose such a disorder by other professionals in their discipline and are performing a diagnosis generally accepted within their field. And yet, the Army already stated it wouldn’t treat Manning for her disorder.

If the Army Corrections Command protocol is anything like the Federal Bureau of Prisons protocol on medical care then they should “provide essential medical, dental, and mental health (psychiatric) services in a manner consistent with accepted community standards”. Moreover, the Army Corrections Command already has a protocol allowing for the transfer of an inmate to a federal institution if their facility can’t provide the proper mental health care.Would a federal institution give Manning her treatment? The answer is yes. Constitutionally, federal courts maintain that denying an inmate hormone therapy is a violation of the Equal Protections Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Being a form of essential medical care, denying inmates the treatment recommended by a medical professional is also deemed cruel and unusual punishment by the courts since the prisons promise and must provide healthcare to their inmates.

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.

  1. August 28, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Reblogged this on Tiffany's Non-Blog and commented:
    Please share this piece!!!!!


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