Tag Archives: Bradley Manning

Judge approves official name change for Chelsea Manning

At a hearing on April 24, Leavenworth County District Judge David King granted a petition to allow WikiLeaks whistleblower Pvt. Manning to legally change her name from “Bradley Edward Manning” to “Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.”

Manning issued a public response:

Today is an exciting day. A judge in the state of Kansas has officially ordered my name to be changed from “Bradley Edward Manning” to “Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.” I’ve been working for months for this change, and waiting for years.

It’s worth noting that in both mail and in-person, I’ve often been asked, “Why are you changing your name?” The answer couldn’t be simpler: because it’s a far better, richer, and more honest reflection of who I am and always have been –a woman named Chelsea.

But there is another question I’ve been asked nearly as much, “why are you making this request of the Leavenworth district court?” This is a more complicated question, but the short answer is simple: because I have to.

Unfortunately, the trans* community faces three major obstacles to living a normal life in America: identity documentation, gender segregated institutions, and access to healthcare. And I’ve only just jumped through the first one of these hurdles.

It’s the most banal things –such as showing an ID card, going to the bathroom, and receiving trans-related healthcare –that in our current society keep us from having the means to live better, more productive, and safer lives. Unfortunately, there are many laws and procedures that often don’t consider trans* people, or even outright prevent them from doing the sort of simple day-to-day things that others take for granted.

Now, I am waiting on the military to assist me in accessing healthcare. In August, I requested that the military provide me with a treatment plan consistent with the recognized professional standards of care for trans health. They quickly evaluated me and informed me that they came up with a proposed treatment plan. However, I have not seen yet seen their treatment plan, and in over eight months, I have not received any response as to whether the plan will be approved or disapproved, or whether it follows the guidelines of qualified health professionals.

I’m optimistic that things can –and certainly will –change for the better.  There are so many people in America today that are willing and open to discuss trans-related issues. Hopefully today’s name change, while so meaningful to me personally, can also raise awareness of the fact that we trans* people exist everywhere in America today, and that we have must jump through hurdles every day just for being who we are. If I’m successful in obtaining access to trans healthcare, it will not only be something I have wanted for a long time myself, but it will also open the door for many people, both inside and outside the military, to request the right to live more open, fulfilled lives.

Thank you,

Chelsea Manning

General upholds conviction, 35-year sentence in Chelsea Manning case

An Army general has upheld the conviction and 35-year prison sentence for Private Chelsea Manning, who turned over classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Maj. Gen. Jeffery S. Buchanan, commander of the Military District of Washington, upheld the conviction according to an announcement from the Army on April 14.

That decision now clears the way for an automatic appeal of the case to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

Manning’s appellate lawyers said on April 13 that they expected the appeal to focus on issues including alleged misuse of the Espionage Act.

Manning, a 26-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., was sentenced in August 2013 for six Espionage Act violations and 14 other offenses for leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents, plus some battlefield video, while serving in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.

Buchanan had the option of approving or reducing the court-martial findings.

Manning is serving her sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Military prosecutors at Manning’s trial last summer called the former intelligence analyst an anarchist hacker and traitor who indiscriminately leaked information she had sworn to protect.

The leak was one of the largest of classified information in U.S. history.

Manning’s supporters say she is a whistleblower who exposed U.S. war crimes and diplomatic hypocrisy while working in Iraq.

Manning was convicted in July 2013 of 20 crimes but acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy.

After sentencing, Manning came out as a transgender woman.

Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Manning’s brave fight continues

When Chelsea Manning came out to the world as transgender this past week, the jokes started almost immediately. As Bradley Manning, she had become famous for her involvement with WikiLeaks, for which she was sentenced to 35 years in prison. With the jokes came the confusion, the doubts and the suspicions. Even within the community, people wondered if she was only coming out as transgender to avoid the prison at Leavenworth. People wondered if she is “really” transgender, or just pretending to be in order to avoid the kind of punishment she would receive as a man.

It’s the kind of question that comes up whenever transgender people tell the world they are going to transition. Transgender men are accused of wanting to benefit from being male in the world, and transgender women are accused of wanting a break from the responsibility and consequences of being male.

But being transgender is never a break, nor does it confer on anyone special privileges or benefits.

The concern is whether Manning will receive the kind of medical treatment she needs in order to transition while in prison. In 2012, a federal court struck down the 2006 Wisconsin law that withheld medical treatment for transgender people in prison. Along with a case in Massachusetts in which a judge ruled that a transgender prisoner has the right to surgery, the Wisconsin case is one of the two that has set a precedent that medical care considered necessary by a doctor cannot be denied to transgender prisoners.

Denial of medical care – any and all medical care that a doctor or psychiatrist deems necessary – has been ruled unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, which bans “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Nationally and internationally, there is broad legal and medical consensus that providing gender-transition- related medical care is medically necessary, inexpensive and legally and morally the right thing to do. The major medical bodies are in consensus on this, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health.

Whether Manning will receive that care is still unknown. But her case, because of its international spotlight, is drawing a lot more attention to the plight of transgender people in general, and specifically to those serving time, such as CeCe MacDonald. 

Manning’s risk of sexual assault will be much higher as a result of being out as transgender. The 1994 case Farmer v. Brennan, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of transgender woman Dee Farmer, who had sued the federal government for failing to protect her from assaults and repeated rape while incarcerated in an all-male federal prison in Indiana, highlights exactly what Manning may face. Studies have found that transgender women are 13 times more likely to be raped while incarcerated.

Our legal definitions of gender often require genital surgeries and gender-marker changes that can be both complicated and expensive. Therefore, transgender women often are housed in men’s prisons or, in some cases, kept in solitary confinement. Legislation such as the Ending Prison Rape Act has only just begun to address these crimes.

There is nothing funny about prison rape whether the person is a man or a woman, cis or transgender, gay or straight.

Educator and lecturer Helen Boyd is the author of “My Husband Betty” and “She’s Not the Man I Married.”

CNN guest jokes about Chelsea Manning getting ‘practice’ in prison

CNN commentator Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney, joked on the cable channel that Chelsea Manning would get “good practice” at transitioning in prison.

Herman was a guest of CNN host Fredricka Whitfield, who repeatedly referred in the segment to Manning as a male. Manning, the Army soldier sentenced to prison in August for leaking classified materials to WikiLeaks, fully came out as transgender last week.

Herman, in a discussion on the news, said providing Manning with hormone therapy in prison was “beyond insanity,” according to video provided by Media Matters for America, a watchdog organization.

Media Matters quoted Herman as saying, “It’s absurd. Sometimes we have to step back and say, ‘you know, some of these cases we cover, this is beyond insanity.’ There’s no way that taxpayers are going to pay a hundred thousand dollars for a gender transformation for this guy while he’s in prison. If he wants to be Chelsea, he can practice all he wants at Fort Leavenworth, because those guys are there for a long time. So he can get good practice and when he gets out, he can have the operation or whatever, and he can pay for it.”

On the Web…

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/08/26/cnn-guest-jokes-that-chelsea-manning-will-get-g/195605

Famed Kinsey Institute wins grant to study transgender issues in the military

Researchers at The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University-Bloomington won a two-year grant to study the medical accommodation and care of transgender servicemembers in the U.S. military

The institute announced the grant on Aug. 22, the same day that Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the soldier convicted and sentenced in the WikiLeaks case, officially came out as transgender and announced her plans to begin hormone therapy.

The institute said the study, “Understanding Aspects of Transgender Medical Accommodation and Care in the U.S. Military,” will include an overall investigation of military polices on transgender identity and inclusion, and how they fit with current medical understanding and professional standards of care for transgender health.

The study also will examine the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ inclusion of transition-related mental health care and hormone therapy for transgender veterans.

“Some research findings and clinical observations have suggested that the rates of veteran status among the transgender community may be elevated compared to the general public,” said Brandon J. Hill, research associate at the institute. “You can even see cases in the media, like Kristin Beck ‘Warrior Princess,’ a former Navy SEAL, interviewed on the ‘Today’ show, and soldier Chelsea Manning, recently convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks; there seems to be an ongoing connection between the transgender community and U.S. military.”

The investigators, Hill and Joshua Trey Barnett, an IU graduate student, will assess medical needs and accommodations of transgender servicemembers and veterans and examine the impact of this care on long-term health outcomes and the discrimination issues facing transgender service members and veterans.

Hill and Barnett will gather through interviews the stories, experiences, challenges and complexities of transgender servicemembers and veterans who have transitioned during active duty or who have accessed medical treatment and care from either the VA or private health care providers after military service.

In addition to reflecting on their previous experiences, participants will have an opportunity to comment on what an ideal medical care system would make available to transgender service members and veterans.

“This project is situated at a unique intersection regarding transgender care, with current military policies not allowing transgender-identified servicemen and servicewomen to serve openly, even in light of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ being repealed, and the fact that the medical community is shifting transgender care away from a pathology model,” Hill said. “Even the VA now covers the cost of transgender transition-related mental health services and hormone therapy for eligible veterans. Clearly, there is a disjuncture between military policies, transgender health standards of care and the VA’s policies on how to best treat America’s transgender service members.”

The project is commissioned by the Palm Center, a research institute focusing on policy related to gender, sexuality and the military.

Transgender servicemembers serve invisibly, live in silence

The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” liberated gay and lesbian servicemembers from their closets but not transgender servicemembers, according to a new study.

The research, “Still Serving in Silence: Transgender Servicemembers and Veterans” comes nearly two years after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

That policy had required gay servicemembers to hide their sexual orientation and was intended to stop military officers from asking about sexual orientation.

Transgender people are not barred by congressional legislation from military service, but the military medical code sets out regulations that can prevent them from signing up or serving openly.

The research showed that transgender Americans serve in the military at a high rate – 20 percent of those who participated in the NTDS had been in the Armed Forces. About 10 percent of the general population serves in the military.

The survey also showed that transgender servicemembers – or veterans – were less likely to be out than transgender civilians.

About 9 percent of transgender servicemembers who served openly reported being discharged, according to Herman.

The survey included personal statements from transgender Americans who served, who were refused entry into the military and who still want to enlist. “I am a patriotic and God-fearing 21-year-old male (of transsexual history) from a military family,” one young man wrote. “I want to serve my country badly, and think about this constantly.”

The study contains many reports of harassment, beatings, sexual assaults and institutional discrimination.

After their service, many transgender veterans were “met with discrimination in employment, housing and health care post-service,” said Herman.

“Still Serving in Silence” found:

• Transgender veterans were more likely to have lost a job due to discrimination than non-veterans.

• Within the workplace, transgender veterans were more likely to have been harassed than non-veterans.

• Transgender veterans were more likely than non-veterans to attain some college education, but actually less likely to have graduated.

• Transgender veterans were more likely than non-veterans to be evicted from their homes due to bias and to experience homelessness. The rate of homelessness for transgender veterans was 21 percent – three times the general population’s rate.

The researchers noted, “This high rate … is not surprising, given that veterans of all gender identities are disproportionately represented in the U.S. homeless population.” Nearly one in seven homeless adults is a veteran.

• A majority of transgender veterans go to non-VA clinics for health care and were more likely to be refused medical treatment due to bias.

“Still Serving in Silence” is based on data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. NGLTF Policy Institute manager Jack Harrison-Quintana and Jody L. Herman of the Williams Institute at UCLA released the paper.

Manning releases statement: I am Chelsea Manning. I am female

Updated: The soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison for sending a trove of classified information to Wikileaks released a statement on Aug. 22 identifying as Chelsea Manning, announcing plans to live as a woman and begin the transitioning process.

The written statement was provided to NBC’s “Today” show. The show’s website contained Manning’s statement, which was headlined, “Subject: The Next Stage of My Life” and read:

I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.

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. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.

Thank you, Chelsea E. Manning

Within an hour of Manning’s announcement, supporters updated their protest campaign to the Free Chelsea movement and flooded social media with positive and appreciative statements.

A number of LGBT civil rights groups also responded to the Manning’s formal coming out as transgender and encouraged people, especially those in the news media, to be respectful.

The Human Rights Campaign said in a release, “Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s transition deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. As she requested in her letter, journalists and other officials should use her chosen name of Chelsea and refer to her with female pronouns. Using the name Bradley or male pronouns is nothing short of an insult. Media, having reported on her wishes, must respect them as is the standard followed by the AP Stylebook.”

HRC also said, “As Pvt. Manning serves her sentence, she deserves the same thing that any incarcerated person does – appropriate and competent medical care and protection from discrimination and violence. The care she receives should be something that she and her doctors – including professionals who understand transgender care – agree is best for her.  There is a clear legal consensus that it is the government’s responsibility to provide medically necessary care for transgender people and the military has an obligation to follow those guidelines.”

A military judge announced Manning’s prison sentence on Aug. 22.

Gender identity was a key part of the defense in the trial of Manning, who had previously identified as gay but has long talked about struggles with gender identity.

Attorneys had presented evidence that Manning was struggling with gender identity, including a photo of the soldier in a blond wig and lipstick that Manning had sent to a therapist.

Manning also wrote a letter to the president this week, which his defense attorney read into the record. The letter, which requested a pardon, explained concerns for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and expressed a love for country and people, read:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy – the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps – to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Editor’s note: This is a developing story that will be updated.


Manning releases statement, wants to live as a woman

The soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison for sending a trove of classified information to Wikileaks released a statement on Aug. 22 identifying as Chelsea Manning, announcing plans to live as a woman and begin a transitioning process.

The written statement was provided to NBC’s “Today” show.

The show’s website contained Manning’s statement, which was headlined, “Subject: The Next Stage of My Life” and read

I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.

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. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.

Thank you, Chelsea E. Manning

A military judge announced the sentence in Manning’s court-martial on Aug. 22.

Gender identity was a key part of the defense in the trial of Manning, who had previously identified as gay but has long talked about struggles with gender identity.

Attorneys had presented evidence that Manning was struggling with gender identity, including a photo of the soldier in a blond wig and lipstick that Manning had sent to a therapist.

Editor’s note: This is a developing story that will be updated.

100,000 call for Manning to receive Nobel Peace Prize

About 100,000 people have signed an internet petition saying they think gay Army Pfc. Bradley Manning should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The petition is being circulated by RootsAction.org and the co-founder of the cyber activist group, Norman Solomon, says he has plans to deliver the petition to the Nobel committee in Oslo later this week.

Manning was formally nominated for the prize by recipient Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, who has said, “I can think of no one more deserving.” She said Manning, convicted of espionage for relaying hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, helped end the Iraq War and “and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere.”

Manning faces up to 136 years in prison for leaking diplomatic cables, plus 470,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports and some warzone video while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010.

He said he leaked the material to expose wrongdoing by the military and U.S. diplomats.

Prosecutors said Manning is a traitor and leaking the material threatened U.S. security and the lives of servicemembers.

Barack Obama is the last American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He received the honor in 2009, the first year of his presidency.

On the Web…

http://rootsaction.org/featured-actions/615-bradley-mannings-nobel-peace-prize

Hollywood takes interest in Bradley Manning story

The story of WikiLeaks is the kind of real-life drama Hollywood loves, so expect to see multiple interpretations of it on the big screen.

Several projects chronicle the organization’s enigmatic leader Julian Assange and recently convicted leaker Bradley Manning.

Alex Gibney’s documentary, “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,” was released earlier this year. Bill Condon’s narrative take on the tale, “The Fifth Estate,” will premiere in September at the Toronto Film Festival.

Two other WikiLeaks projects are in development. “Zero Dark Thirty” screenwriter Mark Boal optioned a New York Times article about Assange earlier this year, and Gibney acquired the rights last year to Denver Nicks’ 2012 book, “Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History.”

“The Bradley Manning story is easily one of the most important stories of the last decade,” Nicks told Democracy Now! last year. “In many ways, Bradley Manning’s story is the story of the United States in the post-9/11 era.”