Earlier today Bradley Manning released a statement to the Today Show via his lawyers stating that she was indeed Transgender and wished to be referred to as “Chelsea” as well as begin transitioning from male to female.
According to Angela Brightfeather, President of the Transgender American Veterans Association, she had this to say in regards to Manning’s situation, “TAVA supports Chelsea’s coming out as Transgender, which at the present time has no relationship or bearing to the conviction that she has been given for her actions regarding classified government leaks.”
“However, being Transgender and wanting to transition involves more than just coming out to others.”
Brightfeather makes it clear that only professional mental health providers can diagnosis an individual with gender related dysphoria, still commonly referred to as “Gender Identity Disorder” despite its removal from the new DSM-V. Brightfeather states that only such a diagnosis could be “ given after numerous sessions with a professional MD.” Brightfeather goes on to explain that often this can take from a few months to years to obtain.
In Manning’s case, “If she receives such a diagnosis, she may be expected to live in her desired gender for a period up to one year before being accepted for gender reassignment surgery, during which time she may wish to be placed on a program of Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT,” Brightfeather stated. This is irrespective to her incarceration or the barriers that may be placed in her way of transition as a result.
According to Brightfeather, “TAVA and the general public has not been made aware of any diagnosis at this time,” referring to Manning’s status.
Brightfeather went on to explain regarding her obtaining care for gender transition, “It is known at this time that Chelsea Manning is not considered a Veteran. She has been demoted to Private and is presently being forced to serve. If at any time in the future she is due veterans status, the Veterans Administration is obligated by the White House Directive of July, 2009 to provide psychiatric assistance and medical treatment for Gender Identity Disorder or GID, to include medications for HRT and other medical assistance before and after surgery, but will not provide or pay for the actual gender surgery.”
To date the Veterans Administration has not made any changes that reflect the changes to the DSM-V regarding GID or the treatment thereof.
Brightfeather further explains, “If Chelsea Manning has lost her Veterans status after her conviction or service, she may, by her own legal means and costs, obtain her rights in accordance with the present regulations governing Federal prisoners. It is TAVA’s position that to deny her of her rights in this area are in violation of her human rights and constitute cruel and inhumane punishment.”
TAVA supports Chelsea Manning’s decision to come out to others and seek assistance, as we do with all Transgender people who feel they must, in order to live happy and productive lives.
Transcribed by Dayna Walker, TAVA Strategic Relationships