Yesterday I wrote a letter to President Barack Obama calling on him to exonerate Bradley Manning. Unbeknownst to me at the time though, Bradley had already come forward to request through his lawyer for the military prison system to start putting him on hormone therapies so that he may begin his physical transformation to match what he identifies with — and therefore is — on the inside, a female. Bradley is now Chelsea. I felt terrible, because even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was adding to the confusion around transgender issues by not firmly adopting the desires of the person whose gender is being reassigned, and that’s what as a society we should be doing now. From this point forward, I vow to do my utmost to acknowledge her wish to be viewed by society as a woman, because well, again she is a female.
So this is just my small attempt to correct that monumental mistake and address this issue succinctly as I can.
Manning was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and treatment for this disorder includes gender reassignment. The hormone therapy needed for the transgender procedure is actually not excessive at all. Research I did pegs the cost per injection around $15-40. What a small price to pay to treat someone with dignity while in captivity. Without a doubt we as the American taxpayer by way of the military prison system should pay for any and all costs involved in completing Chelsea’s reassignment process.
But if you’re really just upset about putting Chelsea’s gender reassignment therapy and hormone treatments on the government’s tab, here’s another way to look at it. Chelsea Manning has been on our payroll for a very long time. As Bradley Manning, we paid her military salary. We paid for her incarceration the entire time she awaited trial. We paid for her legal defense, and we will pay for all her other medical treatments. By all accounts Chelsea won’t serve her entire draconian 35-year sentence, but most experts are saying she’ll be behind bars at least half a decade, barring a miracle of conscience on President Obama’s part and a presidential pardon. So guess what, transphobic asshats? We’ll be paying for her life style regardless.
I understand that prison is meant to be uncomfortable because the idea is you broke one of our laws, one of our sacred rules of life, and you deserve to have your life much less convenient and comfortable as a result. That doesn’t give us permission to be heartless and inhumane. We have a duty to the health and well-being of our captives and when you suffer from gender dysphoria, your health and well-being are at constant risk. One of the more heartbreaking side-effects of gender dysphoria is suicidal depression. Not treating Chelsea’s dysphoria is a death sentence.
Cruel and unusual punishment is unconstitutional. Our founding document literally outlaws punishments deemed cruel and unusual. If you ask me, letting a convicted person’s diagnosed, life-threatening disorder go untreated when their sentence isn’t death is exactly that. Frankly, I’m anti-capital punishment anyway, and I hardly think psychologically starving a human being to death is exactly the kind of thing that we should be holding as pure American values.
Further adding to my feelings on this are the fact that she shouldn’t be in jail, period. The war crimes she exposed far outweigh any of our precious laws about state secrets that she may have violated. The truth of the matter is that since the prosecution couldn’t make the charge of “Aiding the Enemy” stick, they have pretty much conceded the point that what he released in that mega-data dump of his put any Americans in harm’s way. Let’s put it this way –if Dick Cheney’s heart was on us, then I’d say the person that exposed the atrocities carried out thanks to ol’ Dick’s lies deserves her own gender identity confirmed.
This is a complicated issue. Manning’s not a hero, not in my eyes. But she sure as hell is someone worth respecting and someone who stood up against ALL ODDS at a time when standing up to the American government was just simply unheard of. Maybe she was hamfisted in what she leaked to whom, but I would much rather my tax dollars pay for her gender reassignment than one more fucking drone strike that kills a family.
And I just can’t get the image of that disgusting helicopter attack on those civilians out of my head. Did the depraved bastards who did THAT spend any time in the hole? No. The answer to that question is now. So welcome to the new paradigm, everybody, where we punish the people who expose just how much disgusting behavior is carried out in our name and let the people who carried out the atrocities keep their title of “hero.”