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Judge Rules Army MUST Call Brad Manning A Woman

Bradley Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army serving 35 years for leaking classified documents, has been demanding that the military to stop referring to him as a he and refer to him with a female personal pronoun, given that he self-identifies as Chelsea Manning.

Now, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals has ordered the military to comply.

Moving forward, the Army must now either refer to Manning as gender neutral “Private First Class Manning” or, alternatively, by a female pronoun. Masculine pronouns are no longer permitted.

“This is an important victory for Chelsea, who has been mistreated by the government for years,” Nancy Hollander, Manning’s lead counsel, said in a statement on the Chelsea Manning Support Network.

In opposition, Army Capt. Daniel Goldberg argued earlier in February that Manning’s team hadn’t provided a convincing case for why forcing the government to use a female pronoun would “serve the interest of justice.”

Goldberg’s argument apparently failed to persuade the court.

“The court rightly recognized that dignifying Chelsea’s womanhood is not the trivial matter that the government attempted to frame it as,” Chase Strangio, attorney with the ACLU, said to The Guardian. “This is an important development in Chelsea’s fight for adequate medical care for her gender dysphoria. That fight continues but at least the government can no longer attempt to erase Chelsea’s identity by referring to her as male in every legal filing.”

As a last stand, the military wants to prohibit Manning from growing his hair out. In early February, Manning was approved to undergo hormone treatment at the Army’s Fort Leavenworth prison after suing the government. The argument given by Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, was that withholding hormone treatment would constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Given the hormone treatment, and the recent pronoun victory, it is a live question whether the military stands a chance in opposition. Additionally, the latest ruling reflects a wider trend of mandating the recognition of special cases in the military.

A memo currently only in draft form obtained by USA Today in February, called the All Army Activities Directive, would strip lower-level officers of the authority to discharge transgender soldiers and place it instead with the assistant secretary of the Army for personnel, in an effort to make it more likely that transgender personnel will be able to remain in the service until a more permanent arrangement allowing open service is forwarded. (RELATED: New Army Policy Would Make It Harder To Discharge Transgendered Soldiers)

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has also signaled openness to the possibility of transgender soldiers serving openly, and new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has been even more explicit, recently stating in a Q-and-A session in Afghanistan that being an “excellent service member” is the key requirement, and so if transgender soldiers meet the standard, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to serve. (RELATED: New SecDef Supports Lifting Ban On Transgender Service Members)

The White House backed up Carter’s comments.

Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

 

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