WASHINGTON, D.C., August 27, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Armed Forces will not be paying for Bradley Manning to alter his body to match his new, female persona, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
“The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder,” Army spokesman George Wright said in a statement to Courthouse News Service. He said the military still considers Manning a soldier and will provide him with appropriate mental health care if he wants it.
Wright did not tell the paper whether Manning would be permitted to undergo a sex-change if he pays for it himself.
But Manning’s defense lawyer, David Coombs, told the Today Show that if military officials do not offer to arrange for the hormone therapy and surgery his client wants, he’ll bring legal action against them.
“If Fort Leavenworth does not [provide Manning with a sex change] then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so,” Coombs said.
On Wednesday, the 25-year-old, 5’2” Manning was sentenced to 35 years in Fort Leavenworth military prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks. On Thursday, he announced via a statement read aloud on the Today Show that he intends to live the rest of his life as a woman named “Chelsea Manning,” and wants the government to facilitate the transformation.
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning wrote. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.” He also requested that government officials and media outlets use feminine pronouns and descriptors when referring to him, along with his desired new name. Some news outlets, including the Associated Press, have already begun to comply.
Manning’s Thursday announcement was not the first time he has claimed to struggle with gender confusion issues. Four hours of testimony during his sentencing hearing were spent trying to convince the court that his struggles with gender dysphoria, combined with narcissistic personality disorder, an alcoholic upbringing and borderline personality disorder, so destabilized the young man that he could not be held fully responsible for breaking the law.
As evidence of his gender confusion, the defense offered a copy of an email Manning sent a superior in 2010 with the heading “My Problem,” to which he had attached a photo of himself dressed in drag, with the filename “Breanna.jpg.”
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His former therapist, Captain Michael Worsley, argued that the military’s unwillingness to facilitate sex changes for people who consider themselves transgender could have worsened Manning’s mental state.
“There would never be a time where he would able to be openly female and so seeking treatment for that, again, the treatment would be helping you adjust to that. … It’s not treating it like a disorder … so that would be difficult to do in the military,” Worsley said.
But Greg Rinckey, a former Army judge advocate general, told the Washington Post that regardless of how Manning feels about his gender, the military will likely “take the position that Private Manning is still male. He still has a penis and hasn’t gone through surgery. If he fears for his safety, he can be put in isolation or protective custody.”
Rinckey told the Post he thinks Manning’s attorneys are just trying to help their client avoid the notoriously harsh conditions at the all-male Fort Leavenworth and serve his sentence at a federal prison instead. “The military has the ability to do that,” he said. “It is rare, but it can happen.”