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Army Court Orders Military to Stop Using Male Pronouns When Referring to Chelsea Manning

How Chelsea Manning sees herself

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals ordered the military to use correct pronouns when referring to Chelsea Manning, her legal name. The military had opposed requests by Manning’s attorneys.

“This is an important victory for Chelsea, who has been mistreated by the government for years,” Nancy Hollander, lead counsel in Manning’s appeal, stated. “Though only a small step in a long legal fight, my co-counsel, Vincent Ward, Captain Dave Hammond, and I are thrilled that Chelsea will be respected as the woman she is in all legal filings.”

Although the court denied requests to use the correct pronouns when referring to historic facts in the case, the order instructs the military that all “future formal papers filed before this court and all future orders and decisions issued by this court shall either be neutral, e.g., Private First Class Manning or appellant, or employ a feminine pronoun.”

Chase Strangio, who is Manning’s attorney in her lawsuit seeking medical care for her gender dysphoria, reacted, “The court rightly recognized that dignifying Chelsea’s womanhood is not the trivial matter that the government attempted to frame it as. This is an important development in Chelsea’s fight for adequate medical care for her gender dysphoria. That fight continues but at least the government can no longer attempt to erase Chelsea’s identity by referring to her as male in every legal filing.”

The development comes weeks after the Pentagon finally decided to allow Manning to undergo hormone therapy to treat her gender identity disorder.

In a February 5 memo, Col. Erica Nelson, who is the commandant of Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas, indicated, “After carefully considering the recommendation that (hormone treatment) is medically appropriate and necessary, and weighing all associated safety and security risks presented, I approve adding (hormone treatment) to Inmate Manning’s treatment plan.”

Fort Leavenworth is where Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence for offenses a military judge convicted her of committing when she provided diplomatic cables and military incident reports to WikiLeaks that included details of war crimes and other government misconduct.

According to Veterans Affairs, 3,177 veterans were diagnosed with gender identity disorder between 2001 and 2011. About one in 11,000 male babies and one in 30,000 female babies are estimated to be born with the disorder. (Of course, these are veterans. The discrimination against trans persons, which persists, discourages people in the military with gender identity disorder from coming forward.)

The military still refuses to let Manning grow her hair out. This is apparently based off a “risk assessment,” and her attorney continues to pursue a lawsuit to ensure the military provides her adequate medical health care.

Photo by Alicia Neal

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."