The Department of Justice (DoJ) does not want convicted espionage prisoner and trans woman Chelsea Manning to grow her hair beyond a specified length while incarcerated.
Manning is requesting that she be allowed to grow her hair to exceed the two-inch standards currently stipulated by military regulations.
In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35-years in United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas for releasing classified U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks, an international journalism organization that publishes sensitive, top secret records when they can.
Many of Manning’s supporters say she was whistleblowing and exposing some atrocities being carried out by the U.S. government.
Manning, after sentencing announced that she had always felt like a woman and that she would like to transition. Her requests to make those changes while imprisoned have constantly been denied by the government.
In response to her requests, government and military officials say that they will not allow her to groom herself as a woman or further feminize herself, because it could compromise her safety in prison.
However, proponents say that Manning has a condition called gender dysphoria and that she should be allowed the same courtesies available to other women. In this case it would be to extend her hair length and have access to certain female grooming amenities.
Manning responded to the denials of her requests by way of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), saying that expressing who you are inside is not only a civil right, but a human one.
“Presenting myself in the gender that I am is about my right to exist,” she said. “What the government is basically telling me is 'you cannot exist,' that 'you are wrong,' and that 'you do not exist.’ I think this is the kind of situation that justifies all kinds of terrible things like ignorance, maltreatment, torture, murder, and genocide.”
Manning’s lawyer, Chase Strangio of the ACLU, said in a statement that he believes that officials are arduously denying her requests and therefore acting discriminatory.
“The government is attempting to complicate and diminish Chelsea’s core constitutional rights to be treated equally and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment,” he said. “Chelsea’s demand is simple: that she be treated with her medically necessary treatment and like all other women in military custody. Her fight is central to the pursuit for justice for transgender people and for those who are incarcerated and we are honored to fight alongside her.”
Manning could be up for parole in 2021.
You can read the full government brief HERE
Timothy Rawles is Community Editor of SDGLN. He can be reached at [email protected], @reporter66 on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.