Transgender Iowan: Hormone therapy should be available in prison - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Transgender Iowan: Hormone therapy should be available in prison

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A day after Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35-years in prison for sending classified material to WikiLeaks, Manning's attorney announced he would like to live as a woman named Chelsea.

According to the Associate Press, Manning wants to live his life as a woman and hopes officials at the military prison accommodate his gender transition by offering hormone therapy in prison.

Unlike the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which considers hormone therapy for inmates, the Army does not.

This fact has raised a heated debate on transgender issues and whether hormone therapy should be offered in the prison system on a taxpayer's dime.

Liz Bendalin is a transgender individual in Cedar Falls.

She has been taking Estrogen for nine months and believes hormone therapy is an important part for anyone in the gender transition process.

"In high school, I was a very, very athletic person. I have 16 athletic letters from high school," she said.

"I was a jock," she added.

Bendalin, who was born a man, says she spends about three days a month as a woman, and her Estrogen treatments range from $500-$750 a year.

"I identify as transgender, and I have since I was under the age of 10," she said, adding that hormone therapy has helped bring her body into "alignment" with how she views herself.

Bendalin said she believes prison systems should offer similar hormone therapy for individuals in the system.

"If somebody comes down with a disease of some kind, we treat them. If somebody has AIDS in prison, we treat them. If gender dysphoria is a diagnosis and the treatment for gender dysphoria is hormones, than would that not be an appropriate treatment?" she asked.

Executive Officer of the Iowa Department of Corrections, Fred Scaletta, told KWWL there are at least two transgender individuals currently in the state prison system.

He said hormone therapy is available if deemed medically necessary.

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