A newly posted United States Navy doctor who serves as the senior medical officer at the American military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, said the detention center might offer U.S.-taxpayer-funded gender transition assistance.
“Anything that a detainee requests from a medical standpoint, we will consider,” said the North Carolina-licensed family medicine physician, identified only as Cmdr. SMO 2, reports the Miami Herald. “You know, we haven’t gotten there. But it is 2017.”
His comments came in response to a visiting reporter’s question.
Rear Adm. Edward Cashman, the commander at the Guantánamo prison known as Gitmo, told reporters Sunday that he had no doubt U.S. military medicine could meet the challenge, notes the Herald.
However, Cmdr. Cashman conceded any decision about whether to honor such a request “would reside with policymakers in Washington, DC, about their willingness to finance and execute that.”
“We have good facilities and we have the ability to get the expertise to do just about anything” at the Guantánamo detention center, which houses 5,000 residents, 1,500 of them assigned to Cashman’s staff and a small community-style U.S. Navy hospital.
The gender transition is not part of the list of possible scenarios that the Guantánamo prison, known as Gitmo, is weighing in its long-range healthcare needs for the 41 jihadists currently held there, who range in age from the mid-30s to nearly 70.
Nevertheless, if it came up, “that’s something I would have to address with the patient individually, figure out what needs we would have to do to meet that,” declared Cmdr. SMO 2.
Considerations would include “where behavioral health would fit in,” he added, alluding to Gitmo’s mental health unit, “where the medications fit in and what kind of monitoring we’d have. But we’re not there yet.”
A Muslim man identified only as Zaki, Gitmo’s long-serving cultural adviser, described the gender transition query “a unique question,” saying, “We never heard it before.”
Zaki said that during his decade-plus at Guantánamo, they “haven’t had any obvious problems sexually.” He stated, “We haven’t seen it like you see in the prisons, rape, and that stuff. We have guards 24 hours a day. We have cameras. But we haven’t had a problem. They all get tested. We haven’t had anybody with AIDS.”
Former soldier Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea, received American taxpayer-funded hormone therapy at the Leavenworth, Kansas, military prison and had been permitted to wear female undergarments while serving time for leaking documents that placed people’s lives in danger.
Army Col. Stephen Gabavics, the warden at Gitmo, indicated that if he had to handle a transgender prisoner, he would employ the policy the U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth had developed to deal with Manning.
At Guantánamo, someone similarly situated might be segregated, but “the conditions of confinement, or in this case detention, would be the same,” declared Gabavics.
Various prisons across America offer hormone therapy and even gender reassignment surgery for inmates.
Although Navy Cmdr. John Robinson, a spokesman for Gitmo, said the senior medical officer “didn’t say” the gender transition would take place at Guantánamo, Congress has prohibited the transfer of a Gitmo detainee to the United States for any reason, including trial, testimony, or medical treatment.