Prison authorities are refusing jailed whistleblower Chelsea Manning medically-necessary treatment for gender dysphoria, and are thereby denying her most basic human rights, she and her lawyers announced Friday.
According to a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the U.S. military issued "another denial in response to Chelsea Manning’s ongoing request for permission to follow female grooming standards—including growing her hair."
Manning confirmed the development on her Twitter account:
Bad news for me: Military continues to make me cut my hair to male standards > = | I’m gonna fight in court
— Chelsea Manning (@xychelsea) September 18, 2015
The former soldier is currently serving a 35-year sentence at the at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas for releasing documentation of U.S. war crimes and other abuses to journalists. Manning has become a Guardian columnist and outspoken advocate for human rights during her incarceration.
As a transgender woman, Manning has also been forced to become an advocate for herself.
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In 2013, Manning publicly announced that she is a woman and would seek treatment for gender dysphoria while in U.S. military custody. From the outset, military prison authorities have repeatedly and routinely denied her care.
The ACLU became in the case, filing a lawsuit on Manning's behalf on September 2014 demanding medically-necessary treatment, including access to hormone therapy and a qualified provider, as well as permission to follow female grooming standards. Following negotiations, the military agreed to provide some care, including hormone therapy, which began in February 2015.
But the military is now refusing to allow Manning to grow her hair or present it in a feminine manner. This is despite the fact that "the outside expert who evaluated her and the military’s own doctors agree that it is a medically necessary part of her treatment to follow the female grooming standards related to hair," according to the ACLU.
While the ACLU and Manning are vowing to fight the military's decision, the whistleblower faces other obstacles. Manning was told by military authorities on Thursday night that she will now start a 21 day punishment for innocuous charges, including possessing books and magazines related to LGBTQ issues, according to the Chelsea Manning Support Network. Manning's punishment will include severe restrictions on all activities deemed recreation, including time out of her cell, phone calls, television, music, exercise, and art supplies.
"I am concerned that the military is enforcing punishment against Chelsea that is cutting off her support network on the same day they have denied her medically necessary treatment," Chase Strangio, attorney for the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project, told Common Dreams. "It is concerning that this is happening at the same time, and it could be putting her in a potentially perilous emotional situation by cutting off her avenues of support."