Chelsea Manning the Transgender Soldier

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On Sept 9, 2016, Chelsea Manning, a transgender soldier, was granted her request for gender transition surgery. The decision to end her hunger strike on September 9, came forth after the U.S. Army agreed to get her medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, as reported by Buzz Feed News.

Currently, the transgender soldier is serving a 35-year prison sentence for violating the Espionage Act. She was arrested in 2013, as Bradley Manning. Her arrest surrounded the leaking of over 700,000 classified Department of State and military documents to Wikileaks.

Currently, she is insisting that the Army give her written assurance she will get all of the medically prescribed medicines she needs for her gender dysphoria. The term gender dysphoria means that a person emotionally and psychologically identifies as the opposite of the gender they were born.

In September 2014, the disavowed soldier filed a lawsuit to get a list of treatments for her gender dysphoria. She did so because prior requests to the U.S. Government returned without results. Shortly after, in February 2015, the Army granted her hormone therapy.

However, even though the surgery was recommended in 2016, by her psychologist, she is still to adhere to the requirements for in-Service transition, regarding her hair. Chase Strangio, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer for Manning, stated that she must keep her hair short, per the requirements for male grooming standards, until she receives her surgery.

To date, there has not been a prison inmate, at either the federal or state level, who has received gender reassignment surgery. Her lawyer, Strangio stated:

Thankfully the government has recognized its constitutional obligation to provide Chelsea with the medical care that she needs and we hope that they will act without delay to ensure that her suffering does not needlessly continue.

At this time, U.S. Army officials have not made any statements concerning this matter. However, Manning stated that she is relieved the military has finally done the right thing. She says all she wanted was for them to allow her to be herself.

She Is Not Alone

In her search for who she really is, Manning is not alone. According to Madam Noire, some of the following stars made the change before they became famous. Others did so while they were well-known. Regardless of when they chose to get their gender reassignment surgery, many believe it took a lot of bravery and courage to make the transition.

  • Alexis Arquette is the sister to Patricia and David Arquette. She is a cabaret performer who underwent male to female surgery.
  • Carmen Carrera appeared on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as a male. Before her surgery, she lived as a gay man and had a long-term relationship with Adrien Torres.
  • Isis King became the first contestant on “America’s Next Top Model” who was transgender. She later went on to the all-star edition.
  • Lea T is a model who has been on the covers of Vogue Paris and Interview magazine. She had her gender reassignment surgery in 2012, in Thailand.
  • Chaz Bono spent years as a lesbian before he got his gender reassignment surgery, sometime between 2008-2010. He is Cher and Sonny Bono’s son and a gay rights activist.
  • Lana Wachowski is known for directing “The Matrix” when she was Larry Wachowski. She received the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award.
  • Janet Mock is the editor for She revealed herself as transgender in a 2011 Marie Claire article.
  • Christine Jorgensen, born George in 1943, underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1952. She set the precedent and became famous for receiving the first gender transformation surgery.
  • Laverne Cox is best known for her role in “Orange Is the New Black (OITNB),” as Sophia Burset. Her twin brother, M Lamar, plays the role in OITNB, as her pre-op self.
  • Thomas Beatie transitioned from female to male. Known as The Pregnant Man because he carried and gave birth to his wife’s two children.

Concerns For Manning

Strangio stated that even with the news of the transgender soldier’s gender reassignment, it does not quiet concerns for her lawyers. Continued monitoring of the situation is needed to see how fast the military moves toward getting Manning her recommended surgery.

Furthermore, she is requesting that the high-tech bullying stop. Manning explained that the high-tech bullying, as she calls it, is the continuous, intentional, and enthusiastic administrative examinations by prison and military officials. A hearing is set for September 20, for charges relating to Manning’s suicide attempt, earlier this summer.

Furthermore, she is still subject to  indefinite solitary confinement, due to her attempt to commit suicide. Also, Strangio states that they will be moving forward with the issue of the stipulation placed on her hair. Her lawyer also has hopes that the charges, in relation to her attempted suicide, are dropped.

By Tracy Blake
Edited by Jeanette Smith


Fight for the Future: Chelsea Manning Begins Hunger Strike to Protest Bullying by Prison and US Government
Buzz Feed News: Chelsea Manning Told She Will Receive Gender Transition Surgery, Her Lawyer Says
Madame Noire: 15 Celebrities Who Underwent Gender Transformation Surgery

Tope Image Courtesy of Richard’s Flicker Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Privat Manning Supporters’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License