The United States military announced on Sept. 13 that they will allow Chelsea Manning, a transgender former U.S. army soldier and intelligence analyst, to proceed with gender reassignment surgery. However, a spokeswoman at Fort Leavenworth, the Kansas Army prison, stated that the prison did not provide hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery, and the military was incorrect in this decision.
Prisons should work towards limiting overcrowding and rectifying the current inmate health care system to better provide inmates with hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery, and other beneficial treatments because the current health care system is only using the bare minimum treatments.
Overcrowding the health care system creates issues that must be addressed. As evidenced in a 2009 study in the American Journal of Public Health, 68 percent of local jail inmates, 20 percent of state prison inmates and 14 percent of federal prison inmates did not receive a medical exam while incarcerated. This is mainly due to overcrowding and understaffing, creating a situation where inmates must wait for health care.
A strengthened health care system should pay for gender reassignment surgery. This reform would create an equitable situation for prisoners, just as the Affordable Care Act creates equity for all non-prisoners. Taxpayer dollars should go towards funding reconstruction surgery indirectly, and should directly fund health care. Because the central purpose of a prison should be rehabilitation, having proper access to mental and physical health care is absolutely crucial to developing eventual happiness and rehabilitating any criminal habits. Therefore, it is beneficial for all parties involved to enhance the current healthcare system and provide a system that is upstanding and able to cover surgeries, such as gender reassignment surgery, which undoubtedly will benefit the patient.
Certainly, the current health care system within prisons has many faults. The federal government and any impending efforts to improve the current health care system should recognize gender reassignment surgery as a necessary surgery. Gender dysphoria is a valid disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association. In 2013, the National Distance Education University psychologist Antonio Guillamon and University of Barcelona neuropsychologist Carme Junque Plaja published their findings when they used magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brains of 42 transgender people, 24 of whom were designated female at birth and 18 of whom were designated male at birth. Their studies demonstrated that subcortical and cortical regions had more likeness to the brain of each transgender person’s respective gender that they identified as, further rebutting any doubts regarding the legitimacy of gender dysphoria. While some may argue otherwise, gender dysphoria is a true disorder. So, every person with gender dysphoria should have the constitutional right to life, and be treated for their disorder regardless of their incarceration status.
It is a genial gesture that the U.S. Army was able to further validate the seriousness gender dysphoria by allowing Manning to proceed with her own self-funded transitional surgeries and therapies. By doing so, at least a part of the federal government recognized people who are transgender as citizens of U.S. society, guaranteed the rights to life, liberty and happiness as stated in the Constitution.
Furthermore, it was also a step in the right direction when the Department of Defense released a memo on June 30 stating that transgender people could openly serve in the military, when previously they could not. This validates transgender people as equal to all other people in the U.S., thus further enhancing constitutionally-guaranteed equality.
Federal bodies acknowledging the basic liberties of transgender people basic liberties is absolutely essential because its implications overall are a more widespread acceptance of transgender people across the country. As transgender people are permitted to openly serve in the army and thus integrate into society, they will have more contact with transphobic people. This could potentially lead help combat transphobia overall.
People like Chelsea Manning should be guaranteed healthcare since the Constitution guarantees all a right to life, liberty and happiness. So, taxpayers should contribute to ameliorating society for everyone and rehabilitating criminals especially to better everyone’s welfare. Furthermore, taxpayers should feel morally obligated to help better the current prison health care system because it would be paying homage to the United States’ dogma of self-creation. Everyone, including Chelsea Manning, should be given a second chance to recreate oneself according to their own standards–and re-creation can only be done through a healthy rehabilitation process.
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