In a completely unprecedented move, the Pentagon appears to be considering transferring Chealsea Manning into civilian prison so that she can access transition-related care. They seem to be in a bind because, though openly trans folks can’t currently serve in the military, they will not kick her out until she serves her full 35-year sentence for leaking national security data.
Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had approved a request from the Army to “evaluate potential treatment options for inmates diagnosed with gender dysphoria.”
Private Manning [...] was convicted of sending classified documents to WikiLeaks. She has asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman.
Admiral Kirby said that no decision on the Army request, first reported by The Associated Press, had been made, and that any decision to transfer Private Manning to a civilian facility would “properly balance the soldier’s medical needs with our obligation to ensure Private Manning remains behind bars.”
For me, this raises a lot more questions. Prisons are gender-segregated institutions – would they plan on housing Chelsea Manning where she feels safest? How is this concern about her health care needs compatible with the imperative to imprison her for 35 years? Also, prisons aren’t exactly known for being places where trans folks can access their transition-related needs. Prisons are inherently violent spaces for trans people, but personally, I’m with CeCe McDonald: prisons aren’t safe for anybody. It will be interesting to keep track of how the Pentagon chooses to handle this.
Verónica dreams of a world without prisons.