Chelsea Manning Files Suit for Hormones

     (CN) – WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning filed suit Tuesday against the military officials she says are keeping her from outwardly expressing her female gender.
     The suit comes over a year after Manning was sentenced to 35 years at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., for the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history.
     It had been one day before Manning’s Aug. 21, 2013, sentencing that Courthouse News exclusively reported on the prison’s policy of not providing transgender inmates with hormone therapy.
     “I’m gonna change that,” Manning’s trial attorney David Coombs vowed at an Aug. 22 press conference.
     The complaint filed Tuesday against the Defense Department and various military officials notes that Manning announced at that time that “she would be requesting treatment for gender dysphoria while incarcerated.”
     Leavenworth nevertheless held true to its word and has denied her “access to medically necessary treatment,” according to the lawsuit, which Coombs filed in Washington, with help from three lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union.
     The 18-page complaint and Manning’s accompanying declaration give a glimpse at the discrimination she faced while coming to grips with her identity at a time when she was still known as Bradley.
     “Growing up I was often picked on at home and in school for being effeminate,” Manning’s declaration states. “I was called ‘girly-boy,’ ‘faggy,’ and ‘queer’ merely for being myself and having different interests and behaviors than my male peers at school and from what my teachers expected.”
     Manning said she came to terms with being transgender woman when it was “not safe to publically come out,” during her military service in 2009.
     As revealed in last summer’s court-martial, Manning’s psychologist Capt. Michael Worsley was the first to diagnose her with gender dysphoria in Baghdad shortly before her arrest.
     Army investigators soon transferred Manning to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait where she said that she thought about suicide and “self-surgury.”
     The episode led to Manning’s controversial placement on suicide watch at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.
     In the pre-trial phase of her court-martial, a military judge found that the extremely close monitoring Manning faced from Quantico officials in the brig amounted to “unlawful pretrial punishment.”
     Manning’s lawyers note that the Pentagon has not provided their client with hormone therapy more than four years have past since her first diagnosis.
     “Every day that goes by without appropriate treatment, [Manning] experiences escalating anxiety, distress, and depression,” the complaint states. “She feels as though her body is being poisoned by testosterone.”
     Manning says that she needs hormone therapy immediately.
     “If my requests for medical treatment are ultimately denied, I do not believe I will be able to survive another year or two – let alone twenty to thirty years – without treatment,” her declaration states.
     ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio said of Manning in a phone interview: “It was clear that her pain and distress is escalating.”
     For Manning, getting health care has been a higher priority than even the appeal of her sentence, Strangio added.
     In several lawsuits involving transgender prisoners, inmates like Manning also have reported suicide and self-castration attempts. Two such prisoners, Ophelia Azriel De’lonta and Michelle Kosilek, prevailed on claims that their prisons’ treatment denials constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
     Manning alleges that the Pentagon has violated her Eighth Amendment rights.
     She wants a federal judge to have Leavenworth provide “clinically appropriate treatment,” including “but not limited to” hormone therapy, the ability to dress as a woman in prison and a capable doctor.
     The Pentagon declined to comment on the case, which has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.
     Manning’s disclosures to WikiLeaks included hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, incident reports from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and profiles of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

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