Chelsea Elizabeth Manning is a former U.S. soldier who was convicted in July 2013 of violating the Espionage Act; Manning also happens to be transgendered.
Manning, formerly taking the first name Bradley, identifies as a woman, though born with male sex organs.
Now that she is in prison, officials are refusing to provide her with hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery to treat her gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder. She had been seeing a gender counselor since before her conviction.
Apparently Manning has been conflicted about her gender identity for some time. While still enlisted in the military, Manning stated in an email to her supervisor, “This is my problem. I’ve had signs of it for a very long time. I thought a career in the military would get rid of it. I’ve been trying very, very hard to get rid of it by placing myself in situations where it would be impossible. But it’s not going away; it’s haunting me more and more as I get older.”
Though it’s apparent that Manning suffers from her gender identity issues, and that she may want to live the rest of her life as a woman, I believe that prison is a place for punishment, not treatment.
As Manning noted, this situation is her problem. She should solve it on her own after she has served her prison term.
This is not a civil rights issue. Manning is not being punished for who she is; she is being punished for the crime she committed.
The LGBT community is gaining prominence in the U.S., and people who identify as transgendered are beginning to publicly discuss their concerns; many feel as though their civil rights are being violated. The struggle for social acceptance of members of the LGBT community is being compared to previous social movements, such as those for women’s rights in the ‘20s and civil rights for black Americans in the ‘60s.
Same-sex couples all over America are contending for the right to marry, and parents are lobbying for new laws to protect their LGBT children, such as legislation requiring transgender bathroom options in public schools.
The attitude toward people who identify as LGBT is changing and new laws may protect their inalienable human rights, but I do not think it is fair for hardworking American taxpayers to finance the elective surgeries of criminals.