Chelsea Manning

Photo via Chelsea Manning/Wikimedia (CC-BY)

Manning’s doctors recommended she keep her hair long, but prison officials have forced her to cut it short.

Chelsea Manning, a trans woman soldier currently serving time in a Kansas military prison for leaking classified information, has just announced that she is beginning a hunger strike.

Manning was originally arrested and convicted as Bradley Manning, and placed in a men’s prison. According to a press release from the nonprofit Fight for the Future, Manning requested she be given hormone therapy for gender dysphoria upon her sentencing. After a long legal battle, she began treatment in February 2015.

Fight for the Future has started a petition for people to show their support.

According to the release, part of her treatment allows for her to present as female, even while living in the men’s prison. This means she should be allowed to keep her hair long, so long as it complies with standards for women’s military prison.

However, according to the release, Manning has been forced to keep her hair short and in compliance with men’s standards.

“I need help. I needed help earlier this year. I was driven to suicide by the lack of care for my gender dysphoria that I have been desperate for. I didn’t get any. I still haven’t gotten any,” Manning’s statement reads. “Today, I have decided that I am no longer going to be bullied by this prison—or by anyone within the U.S. government. I have asked for nothing but the dignity and respect—that I once actually believed would be provided for—afforded to any living human being.”

She said she will refuse any food, except for water and her prescribed medication. She also said she will refuse to cut her hair. She emphasized that her protest is peaceful, and she will not physically resist or fight anyone. “Any physical harm that should come to me at the hands of military or civilian staff will be unnecessary and vindictive.”

She also said she filed a “do not resuscitate” order, effective immediately.

Manning stated that she had attempted suicide earlier this year. According to a 2011 report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 41 percent of trans people have attempted suicide.

"Until I am shown dignity and respect as a human again, I shall endure this pain before me. I am prepared for this mentally and emotionally. I expect that this ordeal will last for a long time,” Manning said. “Quite possibly until my permanent incapacitation or death. I am ready for this.”

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Nearly three years ago, a military judge sentenced former U.S. Army Private First Class Chelsea Manning to 35 years in prison. Manning not only broke the record for leaking the largest cache of sensitive government documents in U.S. history, but she was handed the longest prison term for doing so. On Wednesday, her attorneys filed an appeal calling for her prison term to be reduced to 10 years.
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