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Chelsea Manning Sues Pentagon for Denying Her ‘Urgently-Needed’ Medical Care for Gender Dysphoria

How Chelsea Manning sees herself

Chelsea Manning has filed a lawsuit against the United States Defense Department and the Department of the Army for denying her medical care for her gender dysphoria. It seeks a preliminary injunction requiring the Pentagon to provide “clinically appropriate treatment.”

While deployed as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning provided WikiLeaks with around a half million classified documents, which exposed details of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including war crimes like torture and summary executions. She is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth after being convicted of Espionage Act violations and other offenses on July 30, 2013.

She has spent more than a year trying to convince the Pentagon to provide her access to hormone therapy, but they have ignored her requests or insisted on denying her access to treatment—an alleged violation of her Eighth Amendment rights under the US Constitution.

The lawsuit [PDF] accuses the Pentagon of prohibiting her “from expressing her female gender by growing her hair and otherwise following female grooming standards.” It says she is “experiencing escalating distress and is at serious risk of severe and imminent harm, including resorting to self-surgery (auto-castration) or suicide, because this medically necessary treatment is being withheld.”

It was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia by David Coombs, a military defense attorney who argued her case when she was court-martialed, and lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Despite my repeated efforts to follow each and every procedure to pursue medical treatment,” Manning states in a declaration to the court [PDF], “I am not receiving hormone therapy or permission to follow to the hair, cosmetics, and nail grooming standards consistent with my female gender.”

“On August 20, 2014, approximately six weeks after my attorneys put in a request for my medical records from the USDB, I was informed that I would be issued sports bras nd female underwear. I received those items shortly thereafter but I have not been permitted follow female hair length and other female grooming standards that would allow me to outwardly feminize my appearance. And I have not been provided hormone therapy.”

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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