by, Cheri Roberts
Imprisoned transgender Army Private, Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley manning), has filed a lawsuit against Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks for their failure to provide appropriate medical treatment for her condition. Manning was first diagnosed with gender dysphoria prior to becoming a WikiLeaks source. Her suit claims she is not being treated as a woman nor allowed to dress as one in prison; they have also refused to give her hormone therapy.
In her filing, Manning says,
“It has now been more than four years since I was first diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a condition that I have struggled with my entire life…I do not believe I will be able to survive another year or two – let alone twenty to thirty years – without treatment.”
Those are heavy words, but the feeling behind them is not uncommon to those who suffer the discrimination, disbelief and disgust that having gender dysphoria elicits from many uneducated or close minded people. In light of Manning’s status as a political Whistleblower serving a 35-year sentence one can only imagine the politics at play for her as a transgender prisoner in the system.
A nationwide survey of hate-motivated violence from 1985 to 1998 found that incidents targeting transgender people accounted for 20% of all murders and about 40% of all police-initiated violence and only about 44% of the transgender population in the United States has any protection through transgender laws. Manning outlines some of her early childhoods struggles with bullying in her suit.
Up to 5% of the world’s population is transgender. That is no small number when you start counting. Even if someone who is transgender survives the harsh statistics of hate-crimes and violence; 44% or more may not survive themselves. Suicide rates/attempts among those with gender dysphoria are nine times the national average. With that, Chelsea Manning’s solemn words should be heeded.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender and non-gender conforming people is a set of guidelines and rules and according to the ACLU these rules and others are being broken by the United States Government. Chelsea Manning’s suit requires she be allowed to dress as a woman and that she be medically treated and permitted to begin hormone therapy. Both the Standards above and the Standards of Care for prisoners require that these things happen.
How long will the powers that be drag it out and will a decision finally be awarded that allows Manning to begin transitioning?
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