A costly precedent
Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, convicted of leaking sensitive national-security information while serving in Iraq, says he wants to undergo hormone therapy in prison so he can begin living as a woman. Like the Massachusetts inmate formerly known as Robert Kosilek, Pvt. Manning expects the government to pay for treatments aimed at changing his gender.
The New York Times sees nothing wrong with this. It even has gone so far as calling the Leavenworth military prison’s newest inmate by his chosen name — Chelsea — and using the pronoun “she” on its editorial page.
The issue in both cases is whether gender-identity disorder, like pneumonia or a broken arm, obligates the prison system to provide appropriate treatment. A Massachusetts court ruled in favor of Kosilek, 64; the state has appealed. Army officials say Pvt. Manning, facing eight to 35 years at Leavenworth, won’t be granted the hormone treatments he’s requesting.
There’s no reason why he should. People who commit crimes — Kosilek killed his wife in 1990 — give up many rights and privileges. Allowing convicts to demand exotic treatments at taxpayer expense is wrong on the grounds that prison inmates are entitled to the bare minimum of health care. Moreover, allowing such treatments to go forward has the potential to become a costly precedent at the hands of imaginative inmates and lawyers with endless hours on their hands, and law books and courts at their disposal.
— The Republican American of Waterbury (Conn.)