In an unprecedented move, the Army said in July that it would begin providing gender treatment to Private Chelsea Manning, as its effort to have her transferred to a civilian prison was unsuccessful. Two months later, Manning has filed a federal lawsuit against Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the federal government because she says she’s still not receiving appropriate medical care. Manning writes in a legal filing that it’s been four years since she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, but the only treatment she’s received is being able to wear a sports bra and female underwear. “Instead of feeling more like the woman I want to express myself as being, I feel like I am just a ‘man in a bra,’” she writes. “I feel as though I am slowly being poisoned by the testosterone that my body produces.”
Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents to Wikileaks, wants to receive hormone therapy, care from a doctor qualified to treat her condition, and permission to follow female grooming standards. She says her “stress and pain escalate” every day that she goes untreated. “I do not believe I will be able to survive another year or two – let alone twenty to thirty years – without treatment,” Manning writes.
It may take years for the suit to work its way through the legal system, so Manning is seeking a preliminary injunction that will allow her to begin treatment immediately. “The government continues to deny Ms. Manning’s access to necessary medical treatment for gender dysphoria, without which she will continue to suffer severe psychological harms,” said Chase Strangio, an ACLU attorney working on her case. “Such clear disregard of well-established medical protocols constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.”