Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Manning defense's focus on gender identity disorder alarms some

It appears that Manning’s lawyers are desperate enough to use a defense - that isn’t a legal defense for the type of crime committed - hoping the gender card will save him somehow.

“Raising the hackles of some attorneys who work on transgender legal issues, defense attorneys for Bradley Manning apparently intend to make an almost novel legal argument -- that the Army private was suffering from gender identity disorder when his alleged crimes were committed -- if his case proceeds to court martial as expected.

Several attorneys who work with transgender legal issues said they were not aware of a gender identity disorder defense being raised in a civilian court, and King said it’s easy to see why not, noting that such a diagnosis “doesn’t prevent you from knowing right from wrong.” The disorder is most often raised in criminal proceedings as part of an overall insanity defense, or by expert witnesses arguing that a defendant is so mentally damaged that he or she should be committed, he said.

And several lawyers who work with transgender clients indicated they were not happy with the direction that the Manning proceedings have taken. “We don’t think that being transgender, if he in fact is, has anything to do with him breaking the law,” said Kylar Broadus, an attorney with the Transgender Law and Policy Institute. “Obviously the charges are serious and we don’t want the trial to be sensationalized or detracted from by him being transgender.”

“Our opinion is there is no correlation between anything he has done and gender identity disorder,” agreed Dru Levasseur, a transgender rights attorney with Lambda Legal.

“This plays into stereotypes that are not true,” he continued. “There are a lot of people with gender identity disorder fighting for their lives to be respected and understood as human beings who need equal access to the law. This type of scenario just confuses the situation.” (Story source)

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