By MARGARET STAFFORD
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Convicted national security leaker Chelsea Manning isn’t receiving medical treatment for her gender identity condition as previously approved by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the American Civil Liberties Union and Manning’s attorney said Tuesday.
The ACLU and Manning’s civilian attorney, David E. Coombs, on Tuesday notified the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth and several defense department officials, including Hagel, that a lawsuit will be filed if military officials do not confirm by Sept. 4 that the treatment will be provided for Manning.
Manning is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth for sending classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. Manning, who changed her name after her conviction, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man’s body.
Manning sought evaluation and treatment after she was sent to the Fort Leavenworth prison in September 2013. She is asking for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman. Military doctors confirmed the gender dysphoria diagnosis and recommended a treatment plan, but she has yet to receive any treatment, according to the ACLU.
“The continued failure to provide Ms. Manning with this treatment is inconsistent with well-established medical protocols and basic constitutional principles,” Chase Strangio, attorney for the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, said in a statement.
Strangio said refusing to treat Manning is “cruel and unusual punishment” and contended the Army is withholding treatment for political reasons. The lack of treatment puts Manning at risk for serious long-term physical and psychological harm, her advocates said.
Calls to the U.S. Army and the military prison in Fort Leavenworth were not immediately returned.
The former intelligence analyst was sentenced last year for six Espionage Act violations and 14 other offenses for giving WikiLeaks more than 700,000 secret military and U.S. State Department documents.
Manning’s request for treatment was the first ever made by a transgender military inmate. It conflicts with a policy that prohibits transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, but Manning can’t be discharged from the service while serving her prison sentence.