A new dimension was added to the criminal case of the soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison for stealing state secrets last week. The soldier charged and convicted as Bradley Manning announced a desire to be known as a woman named Chelsea.
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female,” Manning said in a statement read on NBC’s Today Show. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”
Manning’s announcement prompted considerable discussion about whether the Army would comply with the request. The private was returned to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after sentencing. Though this issue has not come up before with military prisoners, a 1-year-old Federal Bureau of Prisons policy requires federal prisons to establish treatment plans, including hormone therapy if necessary, for inmates diagnosed with gender-identity disorder. Manning was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2010.
Last week Seattle Times editorial writer Bruce Ramsey wrote a blog post about Manning that offended many people. Though Ramsey wrote a clarication to explain he was commenting on the irony of the government possibly paying for such treatment for a stealer of state secrets, the post was written in an insensitive way. The post prompted several emails expressing dismay and hurt. Some very thoughtfully discussed the complexities of gender-identity issues and the challenges of seeking medical care that most insurance companies don’t cover.
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Manning’s story and this episode provides an opportunity to have a dialogue about transgender issues. These panelists have confirmed their participation in our chat. We invite you to join our discussion to share your thoughts, comments and questions.
Danielle Askini, founder of the Gender Justice League in Seattle. Askini was featured in a Seattle Times news story on transgender pride in June.
Bruce Ramsey, editorial writer for The Seattle Times.
Sharon Pian Chan, associate opinions editor/digital for The Seattle Times, will moderate the discussion.
Update 10:20 a.m. 8/27/13:
Ina Fried, senior editor at AllThingsD. Fried, who is based in California, covers mobile technology for the technology news site. Before joining AllThingsD she spent a decade at CNET covering, among other things, Microsoft and Apple. She a former board member and vice president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the current chair of its Transgender and Allies task force.
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