September 24, 2014 at 10:20 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Chelsea Manning sues DOD over denial of hormone treatment
Chelsea Manning, gay news, Washington Blade

Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence. (Portrait by Alicia Neal)

Transgender Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced last year to 35 years in prison for leaking classified military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington on Tuesday accusing the Army of violating her constitutional right to necessary medical treatment related to her transition from a man to a woman.

The 19-page lawsuit reads in part like a medical journal, explaining the condition known as gender dysphoria in which a person suffers psychological distress when he or she identifies with the opposite gender from that which he or she was assigned at birth.

The ACLU, which filed the lawsuit on Manning’s behalf, said in a statement that Army doctors diagnosed her as having gender dysphoria more than four years ago while stationed in Iraq. The diagnosis came prior to her arrest for leaking the classified documents and at a time she went by her birth name of Bradley Manning.

On the day following her sentencing, Manning released a statement declaring for the first time publicly that she identified as a female and was beginning the process of transition from Bradley to Chelsea Manning.

“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, one of her attorneys with the ACLU based in New York.

The lawsuit names as defendants the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and three uniformed military officials in charge of Army prison policies and the prison where Manning is incarcerated.

The lawsuit says officials at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where Manning is being held, have repeatedly denied her request for standard-of-care medical treatment for gender dysphoria.

According to the lawsuit, a physician who reviewed Manning’s medical records recommended a treatment plan that included allowing her “to express her female gender through growing her hair and having access to other grooming standards and cosmetics that female prisoners are permitted.” The recommendation also calls for allowing Manning to begin a “regimen of hormone therapy to include estrogens and anti-androgens.”

The lawsuit says Manning’s request to obtain this level of treatment was denied throughout the military chain of command from the prison up to Secretary of Defense Hagel at the Pentagon.

Military officials earlier this year responded to inquiries by Manning’s lawyers, the lawsuit says, by claiming they were meeting Manning’s “treatment needs” by allowing her to receive “expanded” psychotherapy to treat her gender dysphoria.

The lawsuit says military officials claim they were further responding to her treatment needs by providing her with “female undergarments, specifically female underwear and sports bras.”

But the lawsuit says military and prison authorities continue to deny her permission to “outwardly express her female gender through female hair length and other grooming standards” and continue to deny her hormone treatment.

The lawsuit calls on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare that military authorities’ denial of Manning’s needed medical treatment violates her Eighth Amendment rights. It also calls on the court to issue an injunction ordering military authorities to allow Manning to receive hormone therapy and to “express her female gender by following female grooming standards, including dress and hair length.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

1 Comment
  • I don’t feel much compassion for this traitor. Plenty of LGBT people have suffered and never done anything to harm our nation. Ms. Manning has to live with the consequences of her poor choices.

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.