Update (8:20 PM): Give me treatment where I am, says Chelsea Manning
In an emailed statement provided to Common Dreams by Chelsea Manning via the Chelsea Manning Support Network, Manning said the following in response to the latest developments concerning his request to receive hormone therapy treatment while incarcerated at Ft. Leavenworth Prison:
"I wish to clarify that my request for a treatment plan did not involve any request to be transferred. At the beginning of 2014, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, KS and the Army Corrections Command were ready to approve and implement a treatment plan that at least conservatively met the standards set forth by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. I was content with this plan. Based on these facts I don't understand why the Office of the Secretary of Defense would feel the need to punt this issue by transferring me."
Update (1:54 pm): Manning's lawyer responds to AP reporting; Calls military's refusal to provide treatment "flat-out transphobia"
In response to the AP reporting (see below), Chelsea Manning's attorney, David E. Coombs, released a statement (pdf) on Wednesday, which read in part:
The Pentagon’s strategic leak of this story to the media is a transparent attempt to pressure Chelsea into dropping her request for needed treatment under the artificial guise of concern for her medical needs. It is common knowledge that the federal prison system cannot guarantee the safety and security of Chelsea in the way that the military prison system can. Accordingly, Chelsea would face the “choice” between receiving necessary medical treatment but potentially jeopardizing her personal safety, or not receiving necessary medical treatment but ensuring her personal safety. The Pentagon’s leak is intended to strong-arm Chelsea into backing down in her requests for medical treatment, ironically using the same method (leaking information) that sent Chelsea to prison for 35 years.
The military’s refusal to provide necessary medical treatment to Chelsea is flat- out transphobia. Rather than deal with the reality that transgender persons are currently serving in the military, the military would seek to pawn off any responsibility for these individuals to other entities. Chelsea is seeking a medical treatment plan that would provide her with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). There is absolutely no reason that the Fort Leavenworth facility could not provide HRT to Chelsea, other than a self- imposed and regressive policy that is based on archaic views of transgender persons as sexual deviants. The Pentagon may attempt to invoke oft-repeated military catchphrases to justify its policy of not providing HRT to Chelsea. For instance, it may state that providing HRT would be “contrary to good order and discipline” or would somehow interfere with “the needs of the service” or “the mission.” Any such statements are pure rhetoric used by the Pentagon to perpetuate a backward policy that federal courts have already determined amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, according to reports, has approved a plan to transfer Chelsea Manning, the celebrated whistleblower and former Army intelligence officer who leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to Wikileaks, from a military prison where she is now serving sentence to a civilian prison.
The idea of transfer, which has been approved but not finalized, would allow Manning to receive the hormone therapy she has requested in order to help complete her desire to live as a woman. As a military facility, Ft. Leavenworth Prison, where Manning is currently incarcerated does not provide such treatment, but federal prisons do.
According to the Associated Press:
[Manning's ] request was the first ever made by a transgender military inmate and set up a dilemma for the Defense Department: How to treat a soldier for a diagnosed disorder without violating long-standing military policy. Transgender people are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military and the Defense Department does not provide such treatment, but Manning can’t be discharged from the service while serving her 35-year prison sentence.
Some officials have said privately that keeping the soldier in a military prison and unable to have treatment could amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month gave the Army approval to try to work out a transfer plan with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which does provide such treatment, two Pentagon officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
“No decision to transfer Pvt. Manning to a civilian detention facility has been made, and any such decision will, of course, properly balance the soldier’s medical needs with our obligation to ensure Pvt. Manning remains behind bars,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
The two agencies are just starting discussions about prospects for a transfer, the two officials said.