Chelsea Manning has filed a federal lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other officials with the Department of Defense and Department of the Army over the government's "failure to provide necessary medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, a condition with which she was originally diagnosed by Army doctors more than four years ago," according to a statement on the legal challenge. Earlier this summer, Hagel approved the Army's recommendation to begin "rudimentary" level treatment, including allowing Manning to dress in accordance with female grooming standards and access hormone therapy, but has yet to make good on the announcement.
Manning, who is currently serving a 35 year prison sentence for leaking documents to WikiLeaks, is seeking a court order to obtain hormone therapy and access to other medical treatments recommended by her doctors. "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, an attorney in the ACLU Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender project who is also co-counsel on the case. "Such clear disregard of well-established medical protocols constitutes cruel and unusual punishment."
Last month, Manning also released a statement demanding the treatment recommended by her doctors. "This time last year I publicly asked that I be provided with a treatment plan, to bring my body more in line with my gender identity," she said. "Unfortunately, despite silence, and then lip service, the military has not yet provided me with any such treatment."
In addition to access to medical treatment, the suit also demands that Manning be allowed to follow female grooming standards while in prison. "In my daily life I am reminded of this when I look at the name on my badge, the first initial sewed onto my clothing, the hair and grooming standards that I adhere to and the titles and courtesies used by the staff," she said.
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the American Psychological Association support providing treatment to prisoners diagnosed with gender dysphoria. And advocates have continued to pressure the military to lift its ban on trans soldiers serving openly, and to provide trans-related medical care to all soldiers who require it.