Army Private Bradley Manning, recently demoted and dishonorably discharged for his role in leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive classified files to WikiLeaks, was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison.
Manning has since applied for a Presidential pardon, and also announced his desire to be treated as a woman.
According to a letter he wrote that was first reported by NBC’s Today show, Manning writes:
“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).”
However, according to an emailed statement from an Army spokeswoman to Reuters: “The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery.”
It is unclear whether Private Manning will be able to undergo hormone therapy.
The Human Rights Campaign, the activist group which bills itself as “working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights,” had been strangely silent on the topic of Private Bradley Manning. In fact, their webpage never mentions him before today.
Today, the group addressed this issue for the first time:
In an email, Human Rights Campaign Vice President and Chief Foundation Officer Jeff Krehely released the following statement:
“Regardless of how she came to our attention, Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s transition deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. As she requested in her letter, journalists and other officials should use her chosen name of Chelsea and refer to her with female pronouns. Using the name Bradley or male pronouns is nothing short of an insult. Media, having reported on her wishes, must respect them as is the standard followed by the AP Stylebook.
“As Pvt. Manning serves her sentence, she deserves the same thing that any incarcerated person does – appropriate and competent medical care and protection from discrimination and violence. The care she receives should be something that she and her doctors – including professionals who understand transgender care – agree is best for her. There is a clear legal consensus that it is the government’s responsibility to provide medically necessary care for transgender people and the military has an obligation to follow those guidelines.
“What should not be lost is that there are transgender servicemembers and veterans who serve and have served this nation with honor, distinction and great sacrifice. We must not forget or dishonor those individuals. Pvt. Manning’s experience is not a proxy for any other transgender man or woman who wears the uniform of the United States.”