In a plea for support published in the U.K. Guardian on Tuesday, Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, attempted to persuade readers to support the plight of the transgender community.
Manning, currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking confidential material and videos to WikiLeaks, has become a public spectacle since his initial arrest.
(Please note that our publication has adopted a policy to use pronouns based upon physical gender, not preferred gender. Chelsea Manning remains a male.)
In his commentary, Manning provides the statistics that, “one in five trans people in the US have been denied housing because of their gender identity.”
He goes on to state that trans people, “are also less likely to have access to legal counsel or healthcare because of discrimination.”
What Manning describes without statistics to bolster his statement is a common situation among low-income individuals and families.
However, the higher percentage of housing and job discrimination that Manning claims may indeed be true, as statistics for individuals with mental disorders support the statement.
In a study conducted in 2003 by the University of Chicago, 1,824 individuals with serious mental illness were interviewed regarding their perception of discrimination. Fifty-three percent of the participants claimed some type of discrimination.
The Fair Housing Act along with many state laws specifically prohibits housing discrimination against those with mental illness.
The transgender community is divided on whether to identify “Gender Dysphoria” or “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) as a mental illness. Many activists are calling for the removal of GID from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the GSM.
Those activists do not want trans people labeled as “mentally ill.”
However the diagnosis would allow transgendered individuals who feel discriminated against to take advantage of the Fair Housing Act. The act does not currently protect members of the gay or transgender community based upon sexual orientation.
Transgenders can easily have the Fair Housing Act applied to them by obtaining a mental diagnosis from a physician.
While that may seem like a cruel and demeaning solution to a serious problem, the diagnosis would be backed by fact.
According to a study by the Endocrine Society, 44.3% of their patients had “significant mental health histories. Twenty percent had self-mutilated, and 9.3% had attempted suicide at least once.”
By seeking treatment for Gender Identity Disorder, which is now covered under Obamacare along with sex change operations, transgender people can not only get the mental health care they may need, they will also qualify for protection under the Fair Housing Act.
As for Chelsea Manning, he won’t need to worry about housing needs for at least another 30 years.