In the new world of turning established American institutions on their heads, Bradley Manning, the Army private who was convicted of violating the Espionage Act for releasing huge amounts of restricted documents to Wikileaks and sentenced to 35 years in prison, now wants to be called Chelsea because he asserts he’s a woman trapped in a man’s body — and he may sue the Army because the Army won’t pay for hormone therapy as he transitions from Bradley to Chelsea.
Manning’s cause is being trumpeted by transgender advocates as a chance to set new military precedents. His defense attorney, David Coombs said Thursday he would do “everything in my power to make sure they are forced” to provide Manning’s hormone therapy at Fort Leavenworth, where he will make his new home.
But the Army’s regulations assert that transgendered individuals should be administratively separated from the Army, and do not receive benefits including treatments for gender dysphoria like hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery.
Of course, the ACLU jumped in, saying the Army’s refusal to grant treatment would violate Manning’s constitutional rights. Brynn Tannehill of the LGBT servicemember group SPART*A, added, “Chelsea Manning’s refusal of treatment by the military could turn into a very, very interesting game-changer. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.” The Human Rights Campaign said Manning should be given appropriate care.