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Sentencing/Post Conviction

Army evaluating Chelsea Manning for gender dysphoria, says her lawyer

Posted Sep 26, 2013 2:41 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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A military prison is assessing Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, for gender dysphoria, says her lawyer.

David Coombs, a civilian attorney, made the statement Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. The U.S. Army soldier disclosed being transgender shortly after a July espionage conviction, which resulted in a 35-year sentence. At the time, the military said it did not provide hormone therapy for transgender inmates as Manning had requested.

Two army behavior specialists diagnosed Manning with gender dysphoria pretrial, the AP reports, and the army has said that prisoners must be re-evaluated when they move to a new facility.

Because of Congress' unanimously-passed Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, transgender prison inmates must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis twice a year to determine things like where they are housed, according to Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

"I have confidence that they're going to do an honest appraisal, so I'm hoping that when they do that, that results in that treatment," said Coombs, while speaking to a group of students and faculty at Roger Williams University School of Law. "I think the facility is doing all the right things at this point, looking at it and not ruling anything out."

Since 2011, federal inmates who have gender dysphoria can receive treatment, the Guardian reports.

Also, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2011 opinion (PDF) found that denying an inmate with gender dysphoria treatment amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

And in Boston, a federal judge issued an order (PDF) that the state cover the expenses of gender reassignment surgery for male-to-female transgender inmate Michelle L. Kosilek, who is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. The state is appealing the ruling, the Boston Herald reports.

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