Chelsea Manning sues Chuck Hagel

You may have thought you’d heard the last of Chelsea Manning, given that he’s currently doing the long haul in the Big House, but apparently you’d be wrong. (For the record, we are now referring to the prisoner as “Chelsea” because the guy has done the paperwork and had his name legally changed. This does not, however, mean that I’m obliged to change pronouns.) There is no change in his status as a semi-permanent resident of Fort Leavenworth, but he still wants hormone treatments for gender dysphoria and his legal team is willing to sue Chuck Hagel to get them.

Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier who released hundreds of thousands of secret documents to WikiLeaks, has filed a lawsuit in a federal court that charges her military jailers with violating her constitutional rights by denying medical treatment for gender dysphoria.

The legal complaint, lodged with a US district court in Washington DC, accuses the army of repeatedly ignoring her pleas for appropriate treatment for her condition. It names as defendants: the secretary of defence Chuck Hagel, major general David Quantock of the army corrections command, and colonel Erica Nelson who commands the disciplinary barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Manning is held.

“Every day that goes by without appropriate treatment, [Manning] experiences escalating anxiety, distress and depression. She feels as though her body is being poisoned by testosterone,” the suit says.

Now, I’m no doctor (and I’ve never even played on on TV), so I’m not familiar with all of the particulars for the whole gender dysphoria thing, but a quick search on the term testosterone poisoning didn’t turn up much beyond this.

Testosterone poisoning is a pejorative neologism that refers not to actual poisoning, but to a negative perception of stereotypical aspects of male behavior. This speculative and controversial expression is based on a belief that men and boys with more masculine traits have more negative traits than they would otherwise.

Soldiers who are in prison are entitled to a basic level of medical care, just as civilian jail birds are. But there are also definitions as to what conditions lead to any given set of authorized treatments. From previous Army statements, the military doesn’t cover gender dysphoria treatments. But a different report indicates that they have already provided such treatment for thousands of veterans, so a bit of clarification from high command might be in order. The question may come down to what sorts of treatments are paid for in the case of prisoners versus veterans using their normal medical benefits through the VA. (And whether there is any difference between the two.)

Either way, this lawsuit should prove enlightening. You can read the full complaint here. Chelsea won’t be getting out of jail any time soon, but enough legal maneuvering might set him on a course to all sorts of medical experimentation.