Yesterday, USA Today reported that Chelsea Manning has (finally) been cleared to begin receiving hormone replacement therapy as she serves out her 35-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth. While I remain skeptical about the veracity of this claim, as neither she nor her laywer has issued a statement acknowledging this (we’ve been fooled before, people!), if true, this is wonderful news.
Some outlets reported this for what it was: a prisoner being afforded constitutionally-guaranteed healthcare…
Hormone treatment approved for Chelsea Manning, former analyst who leaked classified documents: http://t.co/7pRc2Pi02c
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) February 13, 2015
— ThinkProgress LGBT (@TPEquality) February 13, 2015
Others, somewhat disturbingly, posed this as a question of opinion…
And, unsurprisingly, transphobes, Tea Partiers, and Republcians (there’s a lot of overlap there… a lot) did what they always do anytime someone discusses trans issues: They absolutely flipped out, and argued that “taxpayer money” shouldn’t be going towards this kind of care.
— Tim Stanley (@timothy_stanley) February 13, 2015
— Brooke Ashley Jones (@perspicacious94) February 13, 2015
— John Hayward (@Doc_0) February 13, 2015
The “she shouldn’t get taxpayer-funded medical care because she committed a crime!” argument is trotted out a lot, and I’m just wondering why it’s this issue that seems to raise that. (I mean, 35 years of hormone replacement therapy might cost $5,000-10,000 in total; treatment for cancer, heart conditions, etc. can be more than 50x as expensive, yet you don’t see people decrying the fact that Bernie Madoff has received hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer-funded healthcare).I guess I’m just trying to understand the rationale behind choosing this, comparatively low-cost issue as the line in the sand that some seem to draw. Yes, it is messed up that in this country there are innocent people who have been denied proper healthcare, and yet it’s afforded to prisoners, but that’s how the 8th amendment works — for better or for worse. I reached out to I guess I’m just trying to understand the rationale behind choosing this, comparatively low-cost issue as the line in the sand that some seem to draw. Yes, it is messed up that in this country there are innocent people who have been denied proper healthcare, and yet it’s afforded to prisoners, but that’s how the 8th amendment works — for better or for worse. I reached out to journalist Dave Weigel, who recently came under fire for making a series of statements on Twitter that many viewed as transphobic (here they are):
“I have no problem with my tax dollars paying for the transition of someone who wants and needs it,” Weigel told me, adding that his issue wasn’t with the legitimacy of Manning’s gender or her quest for treatment, but that his view is simply that “gender doesn’t really change until transitioning.”
In 2013, immediately after Manning issued a statement via her lawyer clarifying her gender identity, trans woman (and current Congressional candidate?) Kristin Beck took to her Facebook page to take shots at the Wikileaks source.
The “Manning debacle”… I did not ever want to give this person any of my time…
Too many media requests have poured in, so here is what I have to say:
What you wear, what color you are, your religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity has no basis on whether you are a CRIMINAL or NOT.
For this person, whether male or female to use gender identity to act “BADLY” is a slap in the face to me and everyone who does not fit the “Binary Gender Norm.” It is not an excuse for anything illegal or unjust.
This person took an oath to protect American interest and defend the constitution, and took additional oaths due to security clearances to protect information that leaders deem secret. There are legal avenues to whistle blow or bring attention to issues. THIS person is a liar and a thief and a traitor to many people. If Bradley is truly “Chelsea” then “she” is a traitor to ME personally. There is no excuse.
Another problem I have is the EGO that manning had that he would take it upon himself to make a decision to release documents based on personal assumptions, nearly no experience, and without the whole picture. Some say hero? some say traitor? I just say “misguided, egotistical Liar and thief” which can be applied to both hero or traitor depending on a few factors.
Let me pose a scenario…
LEVANWORTH-very tough place with a lot of Marines and others who defended AMERICA and are spending a year or two there for mistakes and bad conduct. Minor sentences, but still loyal to American interest.
GENERAL Prison population: Tough place to be in any prison.
MEDIA: Manning is known to every person in the prison.
SOLITARY: option for Manning to stay alive, but very lonely and its punishment.
TRANSGENDER: Most prisons have special accommodations to ensure safety for that person.
OUTCOME: Manning shows one photo or a few “halloween” photos or him and some of his friends dabbled? These photos are released and a story is unfolded …. He is Chelsea and protected in special accommodations.
He will not be in general population where his life expectancy would be about a year tops….He is now using something AGAIN for his own gain.
THE BIGGEST problem I have with the whole thing about Chelsea is that as a Transgender person and as an upstanding citizen and knowing many other transgender people who are beacons of righteousness AND that ALL Americans May become FREE.
WE are right at a point in HISTORY where many people are beginning to understand who we are as Transgender, DIVERSE, and that we are just like everyone else…WE ARE ONE….now manning just dirtied the hope of a truly FREE America.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a Dream” speech was 50 years ago….I am still hoping for HIS dream of equality for ALL. America to be a beacon of Freedom and equality, to see his dream of the “red hills” come alive. I am still dreaming of equality…
Manning is a tarnish on my dream, he is a tarnish on Dr. King’s Dream.
Months later, Beck recanted her note, explaining that she was unsure of the proper terminology to use, but her use of caps and scare-quotes seemed needlessly mean. Misgendering, declaring that another trans person should be denied medical treatment, and claiming that Manning used her trans status as an excuse.
Beck once sent me a flurry of messages on Twitter demanding that take down my Park That Car article with caps of her publicly-available Facebook post, insinuating that I’d regret leaving it up. Just a few short months later, Beck was the spokesperson of an organization (unfortunately, run by a convicted child rapist) who declared me “violent” after an online argument I had with another trans woman. I couldn’t help but feel as though Beck was just waiting for something to come along that she could shame me for, and she found it.
But enough about her.
Manning’s statement confirming that yes, she is transgender, came on August 22nd, 2013 — 23 days after she was found guilty, and one day after being sentenced. That said, how is it that Manning tried to “excuse” her behavior by coming out? If she was going to do that, wouldn’t the right time to do that be… oh… DURING her trial? Additionally, she never made a request to be moved to a women’s prison (another common misconception), nor did she state that she wanted access to transition-related surgeries.
She just wanted hormone replacement therapy. Plain and simple. This is bare minimum treatment, and it is honestly the least we could do.
Every so often, I hear a trans person who was at one time in the military argue (like Beck did) that Manning is a “traitor!” and that she’s a bad example. Honestly, that view scares me so much. If your reaction to the Collateral Murder video was, “Man, that person who leaked this video is such a traitor” and not, “I CANNOT BELIEVE OUR MILITARY IS MURDERING INNOCENT CIVILIANS!” there is something wrong with you.
Featured image: Molly Crabapple