Chelsea Manning May Have to Man Up?

It’s been heard to escape the story over the last few weeks. Not only do we have the drama of national security leaks but now we have the real struggle of someone who has been gender dysphoric and how that will pay out in a military prison. We couldn’t have made this stuff up if we tried. It reminds me of the new Jenji Kohan Netflix series, Orange is the New Black. One of the inmates there, Sophie, has hormone replacements that have been cut off and now she is having to beg, cheat and potentially sexually barter with a guard in order to maintain her medical femaleness. Both the show and the real life, Manning situation challenges the idea of gender dysphoria being a medically necessary condition that if left untreated equates to cruel and unusual punishment. In Manning’s case as well, she has not had any surgeries or completed the process of legally going through the hoops of changing gender.gender dysphoriaMy issue is that because this is a medically and psychologically important issue, that the prison will have to provide medical care to her via hormones etc. Does that “etc” include full gender reassignment surgery should Chelsea feel the need to attain complete womanhood? In the outside world of gender reassignment, there is a two year qualification process that follows the Biber Rules. Dr. Biber was a famous sex reassignment surgeon who established the accepted guidelines that require two years of counseling prior to surgery as well, living fully as a female and receiving hormone injections for the same period of time to aid in the transition from male to female. I would think these medical protocols would need to be followed while Chelsea is in prison.

For those of you out there saying that she is just trying to use the system to get free gender reassignment, let me assure you that the process is not a perfect one and will be even more difficult if she is mixed in any prison population, let alone a male one. Trans individuals are generally treated much more harshly and are subject to more violence and harassment in prison. However, some prisons in the nation have properly acknowledged gender dysphoria as a medical issue and provides services as such. The military prison system is an entirely different ball of wax. They seem to think that they can avoid Chelsea’s constitutional right to medical care and just provide psychological services. So in the mean time, Chelsea may indeed need to “man up” until she can get the services she needs as apart of her basic human rights.


 is the resident sexologist at Adam & Eve and also runs a private practice and media consulting business. She has a Doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Her professional affiliations include AASECT, SSSS, and the American Board of Sexologists. She also has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and completed a postgraduate degree in Marriage, Family and Addictions Recovery Therapy.

© Copyright Dr. Kathleen Van Kirk