Chelsea Manning, the trans woman currently serving time in military prison for classified documents to WikiLeaks, attempted to take her own life earlier this month. As a result, Army officials are investigating Manning, and she faces indefinite solitary confinement for the entirety of her 35-year sentence if convicted of the alleged "administrative offenses" against her, the American Civil Liberties Union announced on Thursday.
These offenses include “resisting the force cell move team, prohibited property, and “conduct which threatens,” according to the ACLU. Army officials reportedly verbally communicated to Manning that the charges were related to the suicide attempt.
"The government has long been aware of Chelsea's distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary,” ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio said in a statement. “Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain."
Manning was hospitalized earlier this month after attempting suicide for undisclosed reasons. In a statement, her lawyers wrote, "[Chelsea] knows that people have questions about how she is doing and she wants everyone to know that she remains under close observation by the prison and expects to remain on this status for the next several weeks. For us, hearing Chelsea’s voice after learning that she had attempted to take her life last week was incredibly emotional.”
Manning enlisted in the military in 2007, and leaked documents and videos with sensitive information about the United States's presence in the Iraq War to WikiLeaks in early 2010. In 2013, she was sentenced to 35 years in a maximum-security prison. She has become an icon not only for what her supporters see as a heroic act of whistleblowing, but also for her efforts to live as an openly trans woman while in a military prison. In 2015, Manning wrote an op-ed for Medium describing what it was like when she was ordered to cut her hair short:
I didn’t take the news well. I felt sick. I felt sad. I felt gross — like Frankenstein’s monster wandering around the countryside avoiding angry mobs with torches and pitch forks…After feeling devastated, humiliated, hurt, and rejected — and after wanting to give up on the world — I found my “second wind” of sorts. I can make it just a little longer. I just hope it’s not too much longer…Going through such a seismic, existential shift in my life — transitioning in a military prison —presents real, meaningful, and daily challenges.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.