Chelsea Manning Announces She's Going On a Hunger Strike

Image via AP.
Image via AP.

Chelsea Manning kicked off a hunger strike from her Fort Leavenworth prison cell on Friday, saying that won’t be consuming anything more than water and medication until she’s adequately treated for her gender dysphoria.


In 2015, Manning sued the military for the right to receive hormonal treatment in prison to continue her transition to living as a woman. Nevertheless, she said in a statement that she’s continuing to experience “high tech bullying” by military officials, including the requirement that she cut her hair in accordance with male grooming standards. From the non-profit Fight for the Future:

As part of her treatment, her doctors recommended that she follow the military prison’s female hair grooming standards. In September of 2015 she amended her lawsuit, asking that the government allow her to grow her hair. The government’s response in December 2015 was “no.” The case is still active before a DC District court judge.

Manning, a former U.S. Army analyst currently serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, attempted to commit suicide in July following a series of setbacks regarding her self-presentation, including the decision that allowing her to grow her hair long would present a “security risk.”

On Friday, she released a statement imploring prison officials to comply with her requests. Excerpts are posted below; you can read the entire statement here.

“I need help. I am not getting any. I have asked for help time and time again for six years and through five separate confinement locations. My request has only been ignored, delayed, mocked, given trinkets and lip service by the prison, the military, and this administration.

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.


“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.”


“This is a peaceful act. I intend to keep it as peaceful and non-violent, on my end, as possible. Any physical harm that should come to me at the hands of military or civilian staff will be unnecessary and vindictive. I will not physically resist or in any way harm another person. I have also submitted a “do not resuscitate” letter that is effective immediately. This shall include any attempts to forcibly cut or shorten my hair or to forcibly feed me by any medical or pseudo-medical means.

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. Quite possibly until my permanent incapacitation or death. I am ready for this.

I need help. Please, give me help.”


"Not a real" DrDonna

Setting aside whether she is a criminal/traitor or whatever, the way she has been treated by the army and by their prison has been shameful. Charged with contraband for magazines and expired toothpaste? Long hair as “a security risk”? Her treatment is a real microcosm of the vast scope of the dysfunction in our prison system, even if military prisons are a distinct system from civilian ones. The same problems are endemic to both, because they’re both institutions of the same society and thus the root cause of the problem is the same.