Today, days before she is to face an administrative board who will punish her for her recent suicide attempt, whistleblower Chelsea Manning has announced that she will go on hunger strike until she receives treatment for her gender dysphoria.
Manning is not allowed to have any representation present when she faces the three-person administrative board. The last time she saw these three people, she was given 23 days of "recreation restriction" for being in possession of expired toothpaste. Some prison experts believe that Manning's suicide attempt could result in a long stretch in solitary confinement, a punishment viewed as torture in international human rights conventions. Manning already spent nine months in solitary as a form of dishonorable,
illegal, shameful retaliation by the US military. She spent two months in
a cage in a tent in Kuwait, and seven months at Quantico, where she was
forced to sit still, on her bed, staring directly ahead of her, for hours
Manning is serving a 35 year sentence.
An accompanying filing from Randi C. Ettner, a psychologist with decades of experience in treating patients with gender dysphoria, and author of three of the foundational texts on the subject, makes the case that the government's refusal to treat Manning's condition is dangerous and cruel, and presents a significant suicide risk for Manning.
Fight for the Future has launched a petition in support of Manning.
Here is Manning's statement:
"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."
"I needed help. Yet, instead I am now being punished for surviving my attempt. When I was a child, my father would beat me repeatedly for simply not being masculine enough. I was told to stop crying—to "suck it up." But, I couldn't stop crying. The pain just got worse and worse. Until finally, I just couldn't take the pain anymore."
"I needed help, but no one came then. No one is coming now."
"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."
"I do not believe that this should be dependent on any arbitrary factors—whether you are cisgender or transgender; service member or civilian, citizen or non-citizen. In response to virtually every request, I have been granted limited, if any, dignity and respect—just more pain and anguish."
"I am no longer asking. Now, I am demanding. As of 12:01 am Central Daylight Time on September 9, 2016, and until I am given minimum standards of dignity, respect, and humanity, I shall—refuse to voluntarily cut or shorten my hair in any way; consume any food or drink voluntarily, except for water and currently prescribed medications; and comply with all rules, regulations, laws, and orders that are not related to the two things I have mentioned."
"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."
[Petition/Fight for the Future]
Chelsea Manning Begins Hunger Strike to Protest Bullying by Prison and US Government
[Fight for the Future]