Yesterday, Private Manning was sentenced to serve 35 years in military prison. After sentencing, Manning issued a statement, in which she bravely called for a more just society and stated that if she is not pardoned, she "will serve [her] time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society." Today Ms. Manning again spoke her truth and bravely came out as transgender: "I am Chelsea Manning," she announced. "I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible." The Army responded by stating that it does "not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder." Not only should Chelsea Manning not have to pay the price of a 35-year prison term for sharing information with the press in the public interest, but she should also not have to experience the added punishment of going without necessary medical care.

With Manning's announcement this morning and widespread buzz about Laverne Cox's portrayal of Sophia Burset, a transgender woman serving prison time at a federal women's prison, on Netflix's Orange is the New Black, the struggle of transgender people to access medically necessary care in prison has captured public attention.

Policies, like the one the Army announced this morning, that categorically withhold hormone therapy violate clearly established standards of care for the treatment of Gender Dysphoria as well as clear constitutional proscriptions against deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of individuals in government custody. Gender Dysphoria (formerly known as gender identity disorder or GID) is a serious medical condition, and hormone therapy is part of the accepted medical protocol for treating this condition. Without the necessary treatment, Gender Dysphoria can cause severe psychological distress, anxiety and suicidal ideation. According to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the leading medical authority on the proper standards of treatment for people with GID, "hormone therapy…is a medically necessary intervention for many transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming individuals with Gender Dysphoria."

When the government holds people in its custody, it takes on a duty to provide them medically necessary care. The National Commission on Correctional Healthcare advises against "blanket administrative or other policies that restrict specific medical treatment for transgender people," particularly where such policies either: (1) "make treatments available only to those who received them prior to incarceration or that limit GID treatment to psychotherapy;" or (2) "attempt to ‘freeze' gender transition at the stage reached prior to incarceration." Federal courts that have considered the issue in the last several years have consistently found that the blanket denial of treatment for Gender Dysphoria violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

The ACLU supports Ms. Manning and the many transgender people who have preceded her, including Ophelia De'lonta, Michelle Kosilek, Andrea Fields, Jessica Davison, and Vankemah Moaton, in the fight for medically necessary treatment while in custody.

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Manning is a semi heroic figure for releasing the information he did. He was though, as the judge said reckless in what he released. Nevertheless, errror should usually be made on the side of openess rather than supression of information.

Now he has distracted attention from the matter of over classifiacation by making a purely personal decision public. My interest, as an American is not with his sexual preference or his gendre identification and he has disserved his cause by letting this get in the way.


I hate when the important issue is eclipsed by the anomalous. No doubt efforts will be misdirected towards hormone treatment and obscure the more important and pervasive systemic abuses.


Well, I am a bit confused if the person is a he becoming a she or vice versa. I also see this issue as distracting to the key reason for Manning's current public recognition - the disclosure of "Govmt information".

I consider the sentence a MAJOR injustice. After all, in a Democracy the Government responds to the people! I'm not aware of malicious intent - that is: that the person released information to cause harm to our country or any of our people? And in fact, informing the public about misconduct - in particular - of our government is in my view a truly selfless and patriotic act.

Thank you to the ACLU for defending individuals such as private Manning.


He/she was a traitor that really should have been hanged for hir treason before...and remains so. Not someone I'd pick to be the poster boy/girl for gender equality issues....


It's not a personal decision to be transgender, that's like saying that you have the decision to be white. I don't see a problem with Manning coming out as trans, in fact more power to her that she was willing to come out publicly!


Typo, bottom of third paragraph: "Dender Dysphoria."

Interesting article. Thanks!


I found it outstanding that the ACLU is using its resources to fight so that people can be recognized for what they THINK they ARE.

FANTASTIC. I think I am a brussel sprout.

End brussel sprout discrimination. Go ACLU.


I do home care for a man who is bi sexual. The officials in this state and Ritchie County. have all but succeeded in running him out of his own home, although the one sheriff officer did come to him one day and advised him to sell his property and move out of this county all together. They have locked him up, they have took him to the state police barracks and one state trooper started walking around wearing a woman's wig and mocking him. His family has disowned him over it and I do not see where the problem is. He has lived here for about 14 years and the memories of his mother who passed away in 2007 is what keeps him here, she stood beside him and supported him, now only I do. I did some research here and found out a lot. There was a man who owned a beautiful antique shop in Pennsboro WV who was gay, they actually c
chased him out of town. I am searching to find him now to get the details. Also a man who was gay and one of the best workers at the little general store, so polite and kind to the customers, he got chased out also. This man I do home care for has mental and physical disabilities and this has put him in such depression he doesn't even want to go outside much now, and this is in the country where I was suppose to be able to get him back out for nature walks and such. The fresh air is good for the soul and it seems we are inside more than ever now. I checked the registry on the people here. Out of 2,400 citizens, this man is the only one left here that is more feminine than masculine. He doesn't go out parading it but they have even come into his home and searched, with assault rifles and no warrant. I tell him to stand his ground but they are more aggressive every day. I got him to take me to the store one evening to get a few groceries(evening is better for him, he says less people see him) he went to the little general to get cigarettes while I shopped the dollar store to get a few things cheaper, this was on the 16th of August, the sheriff officers started harassing him right inside the store and followed him outside and across the parking lot to there store where I was, he came in and got me, I ran outside to take pictures on my phone of them following him. When they seen me taking the photos they left. He has gave me permission to start trying to get together a support group here and maybe have some gatherings and rallies here for people that are going through the same thing. I am straight but I believe a person has the right to be who they truly feel they are inside and to be happy. Life is too short to waste on being miserable every day all day. This is a very kind man and he would do anything to help a person. I have so much evidence to what they have done to him on a continuous basis and can't get any justice for him here. How do you stand up to so many corrupt people

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