The Army says it’s not going to let Bradley Manningget a sex change, but his lawyer has vowed to do everything he can to make sure his client can get the female hormones he needs to live as Chelsea Manning in military prison.
Manning — the Army private who got 35 years in military prison for a massive security leak — may have some legal precedent on his side in his fight to live as a woman.
While the U.S. military doesn’t provide hormones or sex-change surgery for its prisoners, transgender inmates in civilian prisons have been able to live in their chosen gender in some cases.
A couple of years ago, the Bureau of Prisons’ official policy was to let transgender inmates take hormones to live as the opposite gender if they were already doing so before they were put away. However, the BOP changed its policy in 2011 to settle a lawsuit brought by Vanessa Adams, who was diagnosed with gender identity disorder after going to prison and wanted to take female hormones. Under the new policy, the BOP evaluates transgender inmates and gives them hormones if necessary.
In deciding whether to house a transgender inmate in a male or female facility, the Bureau of Prisons considers a prisoner’s safety and makes a decision on a case-by-case basis.
Last year, a federal judge in Massachusetts went a little further than allowing sex-change hormones in prison. Judge Mark Wolf ordered the Massachusetts Department of Correction to provide a sex-change operation to Michelle Kosilek, who killed her wife when she was living as Robert.
“This fact that sex reassignment surgery is for some people medically necessary has recently become more widely recognised,” Judge Mark Wolf wrote in a 129-page ruling.
While the Army seems intent on not letting Manning live as a woman in prison, transgender advocates have said that prisoners in military prisons should get the same health care as civilian inmates, ABC News reported.
“This is America — we do not deny health care to prisoners,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center on Transgender Equality, told ABC.
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