'Frankenstein's monster': Chelsea Manning says prison undermines her

Politics

‘Frankenstein’s monster’: Chelsea Manning says prison undermines her

It would be hard to imagine the saga of Chelsea Manning getting any stranger — or more poignant. But it did one night in September when the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, who is serving a 35-year prison term for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks, broke down in tears after authorities at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., told her that she had to cut her hair. In recently filed court papers, Manning alleges that prison officials are undermining her treatment for “gender dysphoria” by forcing her to cut her hair to the same 2-inch length as male prisoners, thereby depriving her of her ability to express herself in a “feminine manner.” Pentagon officials point out that they are already providing Manning not just with hormone therapy but also with women’s underwear and sports bras — the first time the Defense Department has ever provided such care.

I felt gross — like Frankenstein’s monster wandering around the countryside avoiding angry mobs with torches and pitchforks.

Chelsea Manning wrote in a blog post from prison

But Manning says she has now overcome her despair and is once again ready to fight the U.S. government in court. Pursuing a separate lawsuit in her 2013 conviction for violations of the Espionage Act, Manning is also challenging her treatment in prison. It is a novel case that could pose an awkward dilemma for the Obama administration, which has publicly championed the rights of transgender individuals, but now stands accused of violating those rights of the most high-profile transgender inmate in U.S. custody.