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Lawyers say Bradley Manning struggled with gender identity disorder

Soldier accused of leaking thousands of U.S. classified documents

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Information has come to light that Pfc. Bradley Manning may have struggled with his gender identity. (File photo)

Attorneys representing Pfc. Bradley Manning, a 24-year-old Army private previously identified as gay, startled observers at a pre-court martial hearing on Saturday by saying allegations that Manning leaked classified U.S. intelligence information could be linked to a personal struggle over his gender identity.

Revelations that Manning created a Facebook page under the name Breanna Manning, that he dressed in women’s clothes, and he told an Army supervisor that he was suffering from gender identity disorder surfaced on the second day of a military proceeding known as an Article 32 hearing at Fort Meade, Md.

An Army witness testified at the hearing that investigators learned that Manning kept a collection of articles about gender identity disorder in his personal living quarters.

Authorities have accused Manning of orchestrating the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history while he worked as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq. He was arrested in May 2010 on 22 counts of violating military codes pertaining to intelligence. He faces a possible sentence of death or life in prison if convicted on all charges.

MORE IN THE BLADE: PROTESTERS GATHER TO SUPPORT MANNING

Among other things, he’s accused of turning over more than 250,000 classified Pentagon and State Department documents through attached email files to the organization WikiLeaks, which published most of the documents on its website.

News that Manning reportedly was experiencing gender identity disorder comes at a time when the American Psychiatric Association is in the process of eliminating that term from its diagnostic manual and replacing it with the term gender dysphoria.

Jack Drescher, an out gay psychiatrist and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at New York Medical College, is a member of an APA working group that has recommended replacing the term disorder with gender “dysphoria.”

Drescher said both terms refer to a transgender person’s self-identification with a gender other than what he or she was born with biologically. He said the change, which transgender activists and their supporters in the APA feel would end unnecessary stigmatization caused by the term disorder, is expected to be put in place in 2013.

MORE IN THE BLADE: SUPPORTERS WORTY ABOUT TORTURE IN BRADLEY MANNING DETENTION

According to Reuters News Service, Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, and Manning’s brigade chief, Captain Steven Lim, told the Dec. 17 Article 32 hearing that Manning informed an Army intelligence supervisor by email in April 2010 that he was suffering from gender identity disorder.

Lim testified at the hearing that Manning disclosed in his email that the disorder was “affecting his life, work and ability to think,” Reuters reported. Lim also testified that Manning’s email included a photo of Manning dressed as a woman.

Coombs stated at the hearing that Manning’s self disclosure that he was struggling over his gender identity was a sign that he was emotionally unstable and may not have been in a position to handle highly classified documents, Reuters reported.

The news service said Lim testified at the hearing that the supervisor who received the email did not report the information to her superiors until after Manning was arrested a month later for allegedly leaking the classified documents.

Observers of the case have speculated that Manning’s defense may be laying the groundwork for a less severe sentence if Manning is convicted in a court martial. Observers say the defense may argue that Manning showed warning signs of instability that should have prompted his supervisors to revoke his high-level security clearance and cut off his access to classified information before the alleged wrongdoing took place.

In addition to the gender identity issues, information surfaced at the hearing that Manning got into trouble earlier for allegedly assaulting a female supervisor. In a separate incident he reportedly flew into a rage and overturned a table, sending a computer “crashing to the ground,” Reuters reported.

MORE IN THE BLADE: GAY SOLDIER ACCUSED OF LEAKING CLASSIFIED FILES

In yet another incident, an Army intelligence officer testified at the hearing that she saw Manning “curled up on the floor with his arms around his knees,” according to Reuters.

Manning, who is from Maryland, has been seen at gay community events in Washington, D.C. in 2009. On the publicly viewable section of his Facebook profile he listed several outside web pages as being among his favorites, including that of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay organization; the website of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.); and the Washington Blade’s website.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she is concerned that revelations about Manning’s gender identity could be incorrectly interpreted as the cause for his alleged wrong-doing.

“It’s totally unrelated,” she said. “I don’t know him and all I know about this is what I’ve read in the papers. But whether he’s trans or not has absolutely nothing to do with whether he committed treason or whatever he’s accusing of doing.”

Drescher said he also serves on a World Health Organization committee that will consider recommendations to remove gender identity as a mental health diagnosis, and making it a medical diagnosis. He said the medical classification recommendation would be considered by WHO, a United Nations body, for inclusion in its International Classification of Diseases, or ICD, an internationally recognized reference manual for all diagnoses of diseases.

According to Drescher, such a change would not be decided until 2015, when the current version of the ICD is scheduled to be revised.

He said many transgender advocates familiar with medical issues agree that a medical diagnosis for transgender persons is needed to clear the way for medical insurance coverage of ongoing hormone treatment and gender reassignment surgery.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. jim fouratt

    December 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    When a small sensitive smart gay identified soldier gets caught up in the world of super masculinity the femme inside will feel brutalized and tortured. What a courageous person Bradley Manning is . V’s gender expression/identity should not be used as a negative in the court proceedings. I think of ‘Bradley/ Breena as a hero, period . V’s courage started when he came out as a teenager. V’ is attracted to men sexually .that is v’s self expressed sexual orientation. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same thing, V had a relationship with a trans-identified gay man who was a student at MIT. So what,. V likes wearing a dress sometimes, so do many other bio-birth males.. the more I learn about Bradley Manning the more impressed I am by his individual acts of courage … What is important in this trial me is not his sexuality, not v’s gender expression or identity but v’s courage to stand up for honesty, truth and integrity, Being the definition of a good soldier.. I hope the LGBT media well not fall into the trap of a well meaning heterosexual defense strategy and remains clear in their support of Bradley Manning as a hero for the entire LGBT community. V certainly is to me. That is why I attended with OWS the opening session of his pre-trial court hearing and spoke at the rally at Ft mead on
    jim fouratt

    • SHANEIL LAMONES

      December 25, 2011 at 7:33 am

      He is on trial for treason and spying, not for gender identity issues. Whether your a man or a women, he was a soldier that “betrayed” his country. To have anything else taken into effect would be a failure of the American Justice System.

  2. laurelboy2

    December 19, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Let’s blame gender identity disorder now that he’s been caught red-handed giving national security secrets to Wikileaks. Bradley to himself: “I couldn’t figure out whether I liked men or women or both and that’s why I spilled the beans about our national security.” Make me barf.

  3. Siobhra DeWar

    December 20, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I am a Transgender and a proud Veteran. The creature is a traitor. If he leaked the documents for some noble cause then stand on that. Don’t look for pity or excuse’s. Looking for excuse’s is proof that he did not believe what he did was right. And if he does not believe it was right then why should we?

  4. Denny Lyon

    December 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Manning’s defense is indefensible. Blaming treason on gender identity is total b*** s***!!!

  5. belinda

    September 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    It also sets up other trans folks to be denied high level security clearance based on a diagnosis of GID. It’s rather disgusting in my opinion.

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N.C. lieutenant governor compares gays to cow feces, maggots

“If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said

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North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson (Blade file photo)

WINSTON-SALEM – Speaking to parishioners at the Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem last Sunday, November 14, North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson attacked the LGBTQ+ community in remarks caught on the church’s livestreaming video on YouTube.

Robinson said in his sermon that he questioned the “purpose” of being gay; said heterosexual couples are “superior” to gay couples; and that he didn’t want to explain to his grandchildren why two men are kissing if they see that on television the Charlotte Observer reported.

The state’s Republican Lt. Governor then went on to compare being gay to “what the cows leave behind” as well as maggots and flies, who he said all serve a purpose in God’s creation. “If homosexuality is of God, what purpose does it serve? What does it make? What does it create? It creates nothing,” Robinson said.

Democratic lawmakers expressed their outrage on Twitter:

According to the Observer, “The video was distributed Friday by a pastor at St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh, the day before the Transgender Day of Remembrance. A protest rally was held Friday in front of Robinson’s office, but organizers also read the names of transgender people who have been killed.

This man’s theology and religious practices are not only flawed and a perversion of the Christian tenets; he places countless people at risk of violent attacks and even murder every time he opens his mouth,” said Vance Haywood, senior pastor at St. John’s, in a statement.

Robinson is expected to run for the governor’s chair in 2024. In another video of the sermon captured the Lt. Governor ranting in transphobic terms his opinion of the Trans community:

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (Twitter Video)

Video of remarks made by North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson courtesy of the Charlotte Observer.

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LGBTQ elder care facilities open nationwide, but discrimination persists

Advocates say seniors face challenges despite groundbreaking advances

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The Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing facility opened this week in Los Angeles. (Blade file photo)

Marsha Wetzel, an out lesbian, shared her life with her partner of 30 years, Judith Kahn, at the couple’s home in Illinois until Kahn died in 2013 of colon cancer.

As is the case with some same-sex couples who never married, Kahn’s family took legal possession of the couple’s home several years later, forcing Wetzel, who suffered from severe arthritis, to move into the Glen St. Andrew Living Community, a retirement and assisted living facility in Niles, Ill.

According to a lawsuit filed on her behalf in 2016 by the LGBTQ litigation group Lambda Legal, when word got out that Wetzel was a lesbian after she disclosed her sexual orientation to a fellow resident, she was called homophobic slurs, spat on, and assaulted on several occasions by other residents of the facility. The lawsuit, which later resulted in a court ruling in Wetzel’s favor, charged that officials at the Glen St. Andrew facility illegally failed to take action to prevent Wetzel from being subjected to abuse and threats by fellow residents and retaliated against her when she complained.

Lambda Legal announced one year ago, on Nov. 20, 2020, that Wetzel passed away at the age of 73 of natural causes after a landmark 2018 appeals court ruling in her favor affirmed that residential facilities such as the one in which she lived are legally responsible for the safety of tenant residents.

“Marsha spent the rest of her days in a senior living community where she was out and affirmed,” said Lambda Legal attorney Karen Loewy, who represented Wetzel in the lawsuit.

Advocates for LGBTQ seniors were hopeful that the 2018 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruling in the Wetzel case would speed up the gradual but steady advances in the rights of LGBTQ elders in long-term care facilities and in society in general.

A short time later, the New York City-based national LGBTQ elder advocacy group SAGE expanded its programs providing cultural competency training for the nation’s long-term care residential facilities. And in some cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, LGBTQ specific retirement and long-term care facilities began to open to provide LGBTQ elders with a wide range of “wrap around” services in addition to a safe place to live.

But LGBTQ elder advocates were taken aback in October of this year when news surfaced that transgender U.S. Army veteran Lisa Oakley, 68, was denied placement in more than two-dozen long-term care facilities in Colorado in 2020 and earlier this year.

“When they found out I was transgender, a lot of the facilities didn’t want me,” Oakley told USA Today. “A lot of transgender people, I’m sure, face the same thing,” she said. “We’re humans, just like everybody else.” 

Oakley told other media outlets her ordeal in trying to gain admission to a residential care facility began in October 2020, when she became unable to care for herself due to complications from diabetes. Her first choice was a facility in her hometown in rural Craig, Colo., where she had lived for the previous 25 years. She believes that facility turned her down because of her gender identity.

A social worker who assisted in Oakley’s applications for long-term care facilities said the facility in Craig said Oakley would have to be placed in a private room, which was at the time unavailable, “because she still has her ‘boy parts’ and cannot be placed with a woman” in a shared room. 

Many other Colorado facilities to which Oakley applied for admission, according to social worker Cori Martin-Crawford, cited the COVID pandemic as the reason for not accepting new residents. But as COVID related restrictions began to subside, other facilities continued to deny Oakley admission.

With Martin-Crawford’s help, Oakley finally found a facility that is LGBTQ supportive in Grand Junction, Colo., which is nearly three hours away from her hometown of Craig, where she had hoped to remain.

LGBTQ activists expressed concern that the discrimination that Oakley faced took place in the state of Colorado, which has a state law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Experts familiar with long-term care facilities for older adults have said many private elder care facilities can get around state LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws by claiming other reasons for turning down an LGBTQ person.

Michael Adams, the CEO of SAGE, told the Blade that the wide range of programs and initiatives put in place by SAGE and other groups advocating for LGBTQ elders in recent years have resulted in significant changes in support of LGBTQ seniors.

“It is the case now that in almost all states there are one or more elder care facilities that have been trained through our SAGECare program,” Adams said. “But it’s nowhere near what it needs to be,” he said. “It needs to be that there are welcoming elder care facilities in every single community in this country” for LGBTQ elders.

Adams was referring to the SAGE program started recently called SAGECare that arranges for employees and other officials at elder care facilities throughout the country to receive LGBTQ competency training. The facilities that participate in the program are designated “SAGECare credentialed,” and are included in SAGE database lists available to LGBTQ elders looking for a safe facility in which to reside.

SAGE spokesperson Christina Da Costa provided the Blade with data showing there have been 136,975 professionals trained at a total of 617 SAGECare credentialed organizations nationwide. Out of 617 organizations, 172 are residential communities. Also, out of the total of 617 are 167 Area Agencies on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Senior Centers, and senior Ombudsman offices.

Da Costa said 278 of the credentialed entities that have received the SAGECare training throughout the country are “other aging focused nonprofit and for-profit businesses.”

According to SAGE, there are 12 SAGECare credentialed elder care facilities or service providers operating in the D.C. metropolitan area, with two located in D.C. One of the D.C. facilities is Ingleside at Rock Creek, located in Northwest D.C., which is a residential facility. The other is Options for Senior America, a company that provides in-home care services for seniors, including seniors living in D.C.

A SAGE list of the D.C.-area SAGECare credentialed facilities shows that three are in Rockville, Md.; two are in Gaithersburg, Md.; and one each are in Bethesda, Md.; Arlington, Va.; and Alexandria, Va. The list shows that one of them that provides services to elders in the D.C. area is based in North Carolina.

SAGE has a separate list of the 15 elder care residential facilities in the U.S. created specifically to serve LGBTQ residents. 

None are in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. However, SAGE says it has been working in cooperation with Mary’s House for Older Adults, a D.C.-based LGBTQ organization that advocates for LGBTQ seniors and is in the process of opening LGBTQ elder residential facilities in D.C. and others in the surrounding suburbs.

Mary’s House founder and CEO Dr. Imani Woody couldn’t immediately be reached to determine when the organization expects to open its first residential facility. 

While a residential LGBTQ elder facility has yet to open in the D.C. area, activists note that in addition to Mary’s House, services and amenities for LGBTQ elders in the area are currently being provided by the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community and Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive health center, which also has a legal services branch.

Adams of SAGE said the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center opened the nation’s first LGBTQ elder residential facility over eight years ago called Triangle Square. He said the L.A. Center opened a second LGBTQ elder residential facility a short time later. And this week, the L.A. Center announced it has opened a third LGBTQ elder residential facility in Hollywood that is part of a larger “intergenerational campus” that will bring together LGBTQ seniors and LGBTQ youth. 

SAGE, meanwhile, operates two LGBTQ elder long-term care residential facilities in New York City, one in Brooklyn called the Stonewall House and one in the Bronx called Pride House. 

The other U.S. cities with LGBTQ elder residential facilities include: Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco (which has two such facilities), San Diego, Houston, Fort Lauderdale, and Islip, N.Y.

Adams said the LGBTQ elder residential facilities range in size, with the largest – New York’s Stonewall House – having 143 apartments that can accommodate 200 residents. He said others vary from 40 or 50 residential units to 120.

Advocates for LGBTQ elders point to what they consider another important breakthrough for LGBTQ elders this year in the release of a joint SAGE-Human Rights Campaign Long-Term Care Equality Index report for 2021. Adams said the report is the first of what could become an annual report and rating and scorecard for long-term care elder residential facilities and other elder facilities. 

The 2021 report includes a self-reporting assessment of elder care facilities that the facilities themselves completed through a questionnaire in which many disclosed they have LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies for elders around admission to the facility and for practices by staff for those residing in their facilities.

The report includes a chart showing that 158 elder care facilities in 31 states responded positively to the outreach to them by organizers of the Long-Term Care Equality Index.

“We are thrilled to be working with SAGE and to be working with the Human Rights Campaign who are developing the Long-Term Care Equality Index,” said Nii-Quartelai Quartey, who serves as senior adviser and LGBTQ liaison for the American Association of Retired Persons or AARP.

“There is a great deal of work that we’re doing in the area of LGBTQ older adults nationwide,” Quartey told the Blade. “And AARP has been engaged with the LGBTQ community nationwide for many years now,” he said.

“In recent years, we’ve turned up the volume in working more closely with organizations like SAGE and Lambda Legal and the Victory Fund Institute, the Center for Black Equity, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and the Hispanic Federation.”

According to Quartey, a recent AARP study of LGBTQ elders called Maintaining Dignity shows that longstanding concerns of discrimination remain despite the many advances in support for LGBTQ seniors in recent years.

He said a survey that was part of the study found that 67 percent of the LGBTQ elders who responded, “were concerned about neglect in a long-term care setting.” Over 60 percent feared verbal or physical harassment in a long-term care setting and over half “felt forced to hide or deny their identity” as an LGBTQ person, Quartey said.

Another recent survey of LGBTQ elders conducted by SAGE asking them how they feel about the use of the word “queer” in descriptions of LGBTQ people yielded findings that came as a surprise to some, according to Adams. A large majority of those surveyed from across the country said they are “comfortable at this point using that word and reclaiming that word, which is different from what we had heard historically,” Adams said.

He said in response to those findings SAGE will now as an organization gradually shift to using the term LGBTQ instead of its past practice of using LGBT.

Although Congress has yet to pass the Equality Act, last year under the Trump Administration, Congress acted in a rare bipartisan way to approve the required five-year reauthorization of the U.S. Older Americans Act with new language supportive of LGBTQ older adults. President Trump signed the legislation.

The language includes a mandate for outreach to and reporting about services provided to LGBTQ older adults in federally funded programs. It also opens the way for LGBTQ older adults to be designated in a category of “greatest social need.” Under that category, older adults receive a higher priority in the allocation of resources by the federal government.

“We’ve come a long way, but we still have a way to go to get over the finish line,” said the AARP’s Quartey. “And aside from passing legislation federally and on the state and local level, we absolutely need to continue the hard work of changing hearts and minds,” he said.

Longtime gay activist and writer Brian McNaught, whose latest book, “On Being Gay and Gray – Our Stories, Gifts, and the Meaning of Our Lives,” was just released, says his own very informal survey of LGBTQ elders found there is a need for intimacy that may be too controversial for the establishment LGBTQ elder groups.

“I’m a SAGE volunteer and the 81-year-old man with whom I was working after his husband of 47 years died, said after his grieving process, ‘I want to be hugged and kissed. Does that make me a bad person?’”

McNaught told the Blade he assured the man those feelings do not make him a bad person. McNaught said the man’s comment prompted him to conduct further research, in which he found that some gay male elders in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area who often need assisted living support would like to patronize gay bathhouses or seek the services of an escort agency. He said he determined that any LGBTQ elder group providing such services would trigger “a huge uproar of protests” and most likely a loss of funding.

“We don’t want to talk about sexuality and aging,” McNaught said.

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Former VOA director nominated to head U.S. Agency for Global Media

Previous CEO’s actions threatened LGBTQ internet freedom

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(Public domain photo)

President Biden on Monday nominated Amanda Bennett, the former head of Voice of America and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, investigative journalist and editor, to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

“I am honored by this nomination,” Bennett told Voice of America. “If confirmed, I will be so proud to work with all the dedicated journalists at USAGM who are doing the critical and difficult work around the world of upholding and demonstrating the value of a free press.”

The agency operates independently from the U.S. government and oversees five different entities that include Voice of America, broadcasting platforms and the Open Technology Fund. The fund is an independent non-profit organization that focuses on advancing global internet freedom by providing internet access, digital privacy tutorials, privacy enhancement and security tools like encryption.

These tools have been integral in preserving internet freedom for LGBTQ people abroad, especially in places where it’s unsafe or illegal to be LGBTQ.

Bennett, 69, was named VOA director in 2016 and resigned from her post in June 2020 after conservative documentary filmmaker Michael Pack was confirmed as the agency’s CEO during the Trump administration.

Under Pack’s tenure, several technology freedom experts said the former CEO thwarted the Open Technology Fund’s efforts abroad by freezing funds. Pack also ignored a House subpoena for an oversight hearing that was meant for him to address mass firings, withholding congressionally approved funds and other questionable activities.

Pack stepped down at Biden’s request in January, and the president named Kelu Chao, a VOA veteran journalist, as Pack’s replacement and interim CEO.

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