Thursday, June 22, 2017

Chelsea Manning

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Caitlyn Jenner, at the time Bruce Jenner, struck a car in California man in a three car pile up on February of this year that killed a woman. Jenner was allegedly on her phone at the time of the accident and is being sued by multiple people injured in the crash and the family of the deceased. Worse for Jenner, she might be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

If charged, Caitlyn Jenner could serve a full year in prison. This begs the question, will Jenner go to male or female prison?

Federal law confers the right of Jenner to select which gender of prison she wishes to go to. This is according to a regulations mandated by the Department of Justice in 2003, which is only recently enforced, called Prison Rape Elimination Act or PREA. This law allows inmates to determine which gender they sexual identify with and in which population they wish to serve their sentence. The stipulation is that any transgender potential inmate must have legally amended their birth certificate to show the gender with which they identify.

This is not the only potentially controversial transgender prison issue of recent note. Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning, responsible for leaking confidential government documents to Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is serving time in Army prison. While the prison is for males, Chelsea is having her controversial hormone treatments paid for by the United States Army – otherwise known as the American taxpayer.

With roughly 700,000 transgender people in the United States it’s inevitable that some will find their way into the justice system. But with many transgender people lacking the ability to change their birth certificate there’s room for even more controversy. Will future inmates be allowed to change their prison gender preference at will regardless of stated sex on a birth certificate?

The culture is now accepting of transgender individuals, but penal policy has not caught up. The local controversies about young people who believe they are transgendered using the “wrong” middle school bathroom is difficult enough, but what fate awaits a transgender in a prison situation as once again, pop culture bolts way ahead of government policy and universal social acceptance.

Perhaps only a Supreme Court case will tell.

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Chelsea Manning

In a plea for support published in the U.K. Guardian on Tuesday, Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, attempted to persuade readers to support the plight of the transgender community.

Manning, currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking confidential material and videos to WikiLeaks, has become a public spectacle since his initial arrest.

(Please note that our publication has adopted a policy to use pronouns based upon physical gender, not preferred gender. Chelsea Manning remains a male.)

In his commentary, Manning provides the statistics that, “one in five trans people in the US have been denied housing because of their gender identity.”

He goes on to state that trans people, “are also less likely to have access to legal counsel or healthcare because of discrimination.”

What Manning describes without statistics to bolster his statement is a common situation among low-income individuals and families.

However, the higher percentage of housing and job discrimination that Manning claims may indeed be true, as statistics for individuals with mental disorders support the statement.

In a study conducted in 2003 by the University of Chicago, 1,824 individuals with serious mental illness were interviewed regarding their perception of discrimination. Fifty-three percent of the participants claimed some type of discrimination.

The Fair Housing Act along with many state laws specifically prohibits housing discrimination against those with mental illness.

The transgender community is divided on whether to identify “Gender Dysphoria” or “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) as a mental illness. Many activists are calling for the removal of GID from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the GSM.

Those activists do not want trans people labeled as “mentally ill.”

However the diagnosis would allow transgendered individuals who feel discriminated against to take advantage of the Fair Housing Act. The act does not currently protect members of the gay or transgender community based upon sexual orientation.

Transgenders can easily have the Fair Housing Act applied to them by obtaining a mental diagnosis from a physician.

While that may seem like a cruel and demeaning solution to a serious problem, the diagnosis would be backed by fact.

According to a study by the Endocrine Society, 44.3% of their patients had “significant mental health histories. Twenty percent had self-mutilated, and 9.3% had attempted suicide at least once.”

By seeking treatment for Gender Identity Disorder, which is now covered under Obamacare along with sex change operations, transgender people can not only get the mental health care they may need, they will also qualify for protection under the Fair Housing Act.

As for Chelsea Manning, he won’t need to worry about housing needs for at least another 30 years.


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