13 February 2015

Hormone Treatments Approved For Chelsea Manning

You've probably heard the old joke:  An example of an oxymoron is
"military intelligence".

Or this:  "There are three ways to do anything:  the right way, the wrong way and the Army way."

They have been told so often, and for so long, by veterans as well as currently-serving members of the Armed Forces because, well, there's at least a germ of truth in them.  So, when some high-ranking officer acts with common sense and courage, it shocks even the most jaded folks who wear, or have ever worn, the uniform.

That is what Col. Erica Nelson did in writing a memo last week. She's the commandant of the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas.

Knowing that, you might have figured out the purpose and subject of her memo.  Leavenworth's most famous inmate at the moment is none other than Chelsea, nee Bradley, Manning.  And, yes, she did what we (or at least I) have hoped she would do:  She approved Manning for hormone treatments.

She is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.  After her sentencing, she announced her intention to live as female under the name Chelsea.  She later sued for hormone treatments; the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been representing her, argued that she is entitled to them as part of the Army's obligation to provide medical care.  Since the Army, like all of the other branches of the Armed Forces, does not allow transgender people to serve, it does not provide hormone treatments.  And since Manning is still a soldier, the Army argued, she is not entitled to it, although the Veteran's administration provides such treatments to veterans who begin their transitions after leaving the military. 

It will be interesting to see whether Col. Nelson's action will be part of a larger change in the military, especially since Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, in December, that the ban on transgender troops is likely to be assessed and should be lifted.

Perhaps there is military intelligence after all!

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