Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Your basic quagmire

By Carl 

The more I think about the Chelsea (fka Bradley) Manning situation, the shape it takes gets more and more bizarre:

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The Pentagon is considering transferring Ptv. [sic] Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison where the soldier serving time for leaking classified documents could receive medical treatment for gender dysphoria, Defense officials said Wednesday.

That option is among several Army leaders are weighing as they wrestle with a dilemma that is likely to set precedent on a fraught issue for the Pentagon, which has come under increasing pressure to reexamine its prohibition on allowing transgender people to serve in uniform.

OK, before you jump ugly on me, I have no problem with what Chelsea did to get her sentence – in fact, I hold her in far higher regard than I do Edward Snowden, especially after Putin has all but discredited Snowden's pure motives – and I don't really have a problem with her desire to transform her body into a woman's. Hear me out, though.

In the normal course of events, an active-duty Chelsea would have received a medical discharge and been forced to pay for her treatments on her own, which makes sense under the old guard rules where women's roles in the armed forces were restricted – and I'm not defending those rules, just acknowledging they were a reality under which policies were developed like this.

Under the evolving rules of the military, women have a larger role in all areas of the forces, including combat. A born-male woman could conceivably still maintain whatever role she assumed in her male form with little to no real effect to her performance.

Here's where things get interesting: as convicted, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but military rules call for the expulsion of anyone who takes steps to treat her gender dysphoria, so therefore Chelsea should be discharged. This is why one option the Pentagon is considering is a transfer to a federal penitentiary, where she could receive the treatment she needs.

In fact, that has precedent in situations where there is a life-threatening illness that military medicine is ill-equipped to treat. This course of action is further bolstered by the recent decision in the First Circuit Court of Appeals that a transgendered individual who has received a bona fide treatment plan endorsed by physicians must be allowed treatment, that to deny this treatment is unconstitutional under the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause. Chelsea would be entitled to treatment and the military could maintain its facade of "morality" as defined by the right wing yahoos (and avoid an awful lot of awkward publicity).

So this seems a reasonable gesture for the Pentagon to take for Manning and all other transgender soldiers. Right?

OK, but the forensic auditor in me has a question, and when you consider it, you'll see why my mind got blown:

What if this was Chelsea's plan all along?

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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