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Should feds have to pay for Manning to live as a woman in Leavenworth?
August 26, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Transgender issues seem to be in the news again following Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning's announcement that he is transgender and would now prefer to be known as Chelsea Manning.
I sympathize to some extent with Manning, a U.S. Army soldier who was convicted of violations of the Espionage Act for releasing restricted documents to Wikileaks and who has been sentenced to 35 years in Leavenworth Prison.
However, I don't know that I think the government should have to pay for hormone replacement therapy for Manning or, if it comes to that, an expensive sex change operation that many other transgender people have to pay for on their own. The government has no plans to pay for either of these treatments for what it calls Manning's "gender identity disorder"; Manning's lawyer is likely to sue to try to force the feds to pay for the treatment. I imagine the lawyer will argue that, just as the government is responsible for the health care of all prisoners in federal custody, it is responsible for Manning's gender reassignment if it is a legitimate medical need.
There is some precedent. Massachusetts courts have ruled that the state must pay for a sex change operation for convicted murderer Michelle Kosilek, born Robert Kosilek.
What do you think? Should state or federal governments have to pay for hormone replacement therapy or sex change operations for prisoners who feel they were born the wrong sex?
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