JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The United States Defense Department is considering a request from the Army to transfer Private Chelsea Manning, convicted of leaking national security data to WikiLeaks, to a civilian prison so that she can get treatment for her gender disorder, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.
Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had approved a request from the Army to “evaluate potential treatment options for inmates diagnosed with gender dysphoria.”
Private Manning, formerly known as Bradley, was convicted of sending classified documents to WikiLeaks. She has asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman.
Admiral Kirby said that no decision on the army request, first reported by The Associated Press, had been made, and that any decision to transfer Private Manning to a civilian facility “will, of course, properly balance the soldier’s medical needs with our obligation to ensure Private Manning remains behind bars.”
Admiral Kirby was speaking to reporters traveling with Mr. Hagel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Private Manning has been denied clemency; a judge recently upheld her 35-year prison sentence for providing secret files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified materials in American history. Aboard his flight to Jeddah on Monday night, Mr. Hagel repeated recent public remarks that the military should “continually” review its prohibition on transgender people in the armed forces, raising the prospect that the Pentagon’s ban may eventually be lifted, as was the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.
While any such reversal appears to be far in the future — the Pentagon’s standard talking point on the issue has been that it is under continuous review — Mr. Hagel said again that: “Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.”
However, he did not order a review of the policy himself.
In the American military, transgender service members can be summarily dismissed, as Defense Department guidelines describe transgender people as sexual deviants and their condition as “paraphilia,” with its connotations of the atypical and extreme.
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(via NY Times)