Five days ago, Chelsea Manning began a hunger strike “until [she was] given minimum standards of dignity, respect, and humanity”. This was down to how the prison was not addressing her gender dysphoria, such as her having to have short hair, in accordance with the male grooming standards. This flew in the face of her doctors’ recommendations, who urged that she be allowed to grow her hair out to the same length as female prisoners.
At the start of the hunger strike, Manning released a statement ending with: “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.”
It has been released on her website that she ended her strike after being shown a memo from the Army saying that they are going to cooperate and allow her to transition, under the Department of Defence’s new policy for transgender service members.
Manning will be the first transgender prisoner to receive the gender affirmation procedure, meaning that this could set legal precedent for many other incarcerated transpeople.
She says, “I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted – for them to let me be me.” After the long period of time it has taken – hair length recommendations were made back in 2014, and the recommendation for surgery was made in April this year – it is good to see the government provide the necessary care for transpeople in its care.
The status on whether or not the government will drop the charges regarding Manning’s suicide attempt preceding the strike is still undecided.