Friday, September 16, 2016

September 16, 2016--Gender Reassignment Surgery

This is not about Bruce Jenner but Chelsea Manning, a member of our Armed Forces who recently went on a five-day hunger strike to make her case that he, Bradley Edward Manning, her birth name, wanted to have a sex change operation at the Army's expense.

The military finally agreed and I presume the operation and hormone therapy will commence so that Bradley can finally become Chelsea.

Putting aside for the moment whether or not the military should pay for these treatments and surgeries, the Manning case is more complicated than it appears. Complicated because Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year sentence in a military prison because as Bradley Edward, she passed along to WikiLeaks three-quarters-of-a-million secret defense documents.

So, how should one feel about this? Not "gender reassignment surgery" (though it's hard to resist remarking about this euphemism)--it is obvious that the process is a life-changing opportunity for thousands--but about the Army agreeing to allow Manning, essentially a spy, to have taxpayers pay tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for it?

If Manning had served his/her time and been honorably discharged, would the Veterans Administration hospital system agree to pick up the cost for the procedure? If the military is now more or less comfortable with openly transgender recruits serving in the Army, then it likely makes sense for the VA to underwrite and perhaps carry out the treatment.

But for a transgender inmate? Especially one who was convicted of the kinds of crimes that would yield a 35-year sentence? This is the first instance of the military agreeing to do so for a prisoner.

I suppose it is a form of progress since inmates are entitled to receive the kinds of medical treatment they require while serving their sentences.

If my cousin, a WW II veteran at 93 gets basic health care, hearing aids, and dental treatment at VA facilities, why not even a felon such as Chelsea Manning.

On the other hand . . .

Again, it's complicated.

Bradley Manning

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