POLITICS
09/19/2015 11:50 am ET Updated Jan 03, 2017

Military Denies Chelsea Manning Permission To Grow Hair Out

She's previously said that being forced to wear her hair according to male standards was "painful and awkward."

Military officials on Friday denied the request of Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to grow her hair in accordance with female grooming standards. 

The former intelligence analyst is serving a 35-year sentence at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, for providing sensitive documents related to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks -- actions her supporters say may have helped end the war in Iraq.

Manning, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as a woman, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2010. In 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union requested that the Department of Defense provide Manning with clinically recommended treatment, including hormone therapy, access to a qualified medical provider and permission to follow female grooming standards, according to an ACLU statement.

Manning said in a Friday tweet that she intended to fight the decision. She is able to use Twitter in prison by speaking with third parties, who transcribe her words and tweet on her behalf.

The military already agreed to allow Manning access to hormone therapy, speech therapy and cosmetics, but ruled Friday that she must cut her hair in accordance with male standards.

“Even though the military agrees that allowing Chelsea to grow her hair is a critical part of her treatment plan, they continue to deny her basic human and constitutional rights,” ACLU attorney Chase Strangio said in the statement. “When we filed our lawsuit a year ago, Chelsea had already waited more than a year for even minimal care to treat her gender dysphoria.”

Manning described her life in a men’s correctional facility in an April Cosmopolitan interview, where she noted that not being able to let her hair grow longer is “painful and awkward.”

In August, Manning faced indefinite solitary confinement over the infractions of sweeping food on the ground, possessing “prohibited” reading material ― including Vanity Fair and the Cosmopolitan issue that featured her own interview ― and having a tube of expired toothpaste.

Instead, she ultimately lost recreation privileges for 21 days. Strangio noted at the time, however, that the convictions would also show up at any parole or clemency hearings, and would force Manning to remain at a higher-security facility for a longer period of time.

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