Military still won’t recognise gender of trans whistleblower Chelsea Manning

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The US military is still refusing to officially recognise Chelsea Manning’s transition to female, court documents have revealed.

Private Manning, who announced her transition to female in 2013, is currently imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth military prison after leaking details of classified government documents concerning alleged war crimes and rights abuses via WikiLeaks.

Manning has sued the US Army for her right to transition behind bars, and has also taken action against her “unjust” 35-year prison sentence – on the basis that her actions helped make public a large number of serious issues related to military practise.

After Manning attempted to take her own life and embarked on a hunger strike over the issue, the military finally agreed to allow her to undergo gender surgery.

However, this week it has emerged that an Army doctor refused to recommend that Manning’s official gender market be changed to female after an assessment.

In a court filing, the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that prison psychologist Dr Ellen Galloway blocked Manning’s request to have her military records changed to reflect her transition.

The decision means she will likely still be treated as a male within the prison system for the remainder of her 35-year sentence unless it is reversed.

This week a number of major LGBT groups joined with the ACLU to urge President Obama to intervene in the case, and grant clemency to Manning as one of his final acts in office.

The groups wrote: “As organizations dedicated to working for the full equality of LGBTQ people, we writein support of the clemency petition of Ms. Chelsea Manning.

“We support commuting her court-martial sentence to time served. Ms. Manning is currently in the seventh year of a thirty-five year sentence for disclosing classified information to the media withthe intention of raising public awareness about issues she found concerning, including the impact of war on innocent civilians.

“Our organizations may be of differing opinions concerning Ms. Manning’s actions;however, we stand united in our support for her clemency petition.

“If approved, Ms. Manning will have a first chance to live a real, meaningful life as the person she was born to be.Since she was first taken into custody in 2010, Ms. Manning, a transgender woman who is being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement –including for attempting suicide –and denied necessary medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria.

“The Army even opposed her request to use her legal name and to be referred to by female pronouns. While the armed forces have finally opened the door to transgender men and women who wish to serve, the government has continually fought Ms. Manning’s efforts to be treated with basic dignity.”

The letter is signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, BiNet USA, COLAGE, Family Equality Council, FORGE, Inc, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Immigration Equality, KhushDC, Lambda Legal, League of United Latin American Citizens, Los Angeles LGBT Center, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Organization for Women, Pride at Work and the Transgender Law Center.

However, the largest LGBT group in the US, the Human Rights Campaign, has not backed the call.

Responding to a PinkNews question about the decision not to sign the letter, HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said: “We continue to be concerned about the treatment of Chelsea Manning during her confinement.

“As she serves her sentence, she deserves the same thing that any incarcerated person does – appropriate and competent medical care and protection from discrimination and violence. This is something we have – and will continue – to make clear with officials.”