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Chelsea Manning To Sue Military For Prohibiting Her From Growing Hair

Chelsea Manning announced the United States Army has once again denied her ongoing request to grow her hair out. She indicated she will file a lawsuit against the prohibition.

“Bad news for me: Military continues to make me cut my hair to male standards. I’m gonna fight in court,” Manning stated in a message on Twitter.

Chase Strangio, an attorney for the ACLU’s LGBT Project, reacted, “Even though the military agrees that allowing Chelsea to grow her hair is a critical part of her treatment plan, they continue to deny her basic human and constitutional rights.”

“When we filed our lawsuit a year ago, Chelsea had already waited more than a year for even minimal care to treat her gender dysphoria. We are confident that this decision will be overturned by the court but saddened that Chelsea’s treatment continues to be needlessly impeded.”

Manning is serving a thirty-five year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. She was convicted of crimes stemming from her decision to provide over a half million U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks, which exposed war crimes, diplomatic misconduct, and other instances of wrongdoing and questionable acts by officials.

As the ACLU noted in a press release, this decision comes in spite of the fact that the Army backed down from its opposition and has allowed Manning to receive hormone therapy.

Manning’s own military doctors have apparently agreed the ability to grow her hair out is part of medically necessary treatment she should receive for her gender dysphoria.

On October 2, the ACLU will be in court to establish a plan to respond to the Army’s prohibition.

Additionally, Manning finally received paperwork indicating her punishment for having expired toothpaste and LGBTQ and political literature would begin on September 17.

After a secret disciplinary board hearing in which press, members of the public, and her attorneys were not allowed to be present, the Army sentenced her to 21 days of restrictions against recreation.

According to the Chelsea Manning Support Network, this means Manning cannot watch or listen to television, movies, or radio. She cannot possess arts or crafts supplies. She may not go to the gym or library or outside for recreation. She is not authorized to have headsets, earbuds or radio. She is restricted to her cell from 6:30 in the evening until 5:00 in the morning.

On weekends, Manning is only allowed outside her “cell from 5:45 in the morning until 8:00 in the morning and meals.” All phone calls have to be made during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But she may still use the law library, and her visitation, mail, and academic courses are not impacted by the punishment.

“As a result of these restrictions, Chelsea will only be able to spend minimal time outside of her cell besides when she works for the prison and meals. On weekends, Chelsea can only be outside her cell for 2 hours and 15 minutes,” according to the Support Network.

Initially, the Army threatened Manning with indefinite solitary confinement. But Manning believes that punishment was not issued against her because over a hundred thousand people signed a petition against the Army’s decision to issue “charges” against her.

The worst part about the discipline, as Strangio previously noted, is she will “carry these infractions through her parole and clemency process and will be held longer in the more restrictive custody where she is now incarcerated.”

Manning had expected to be moved to minimum custody in February, but now it could be years before that happens.

Sony Ericsson cell phone (via Photography Andreas on Flickr)
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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."