Iraq war document leaker Chelsea Manning, in prison for violating the Espionage Act while serving in the Army, was hospitalized yesterday and a source is telling CNN that it was due to a suicide attempt.
It's not verified as yet, and Manning's own attorney told CNN he's still trying to find out what happened to Manning at Fort Leavenworth. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to Wikileaks to publicize how the war was being operated, including a video of a military helicopter firing on Reuters employees, confusing their cameras for guns.
Manning also revealed that she was transgender right after being convicted, eventually legally changing her name from Bradley to Chelsea.
Just recently the military announced its plans to accommodate transgender troops in a way that allows them to live openly, while still upholding military standards of gendered behavior. (In other words: Yes, you can change your gender, but you have to commit to living as the opposite sex.) Manning, while happy to see the end of the ban on transgender troops, did not support the requirements for accommodation the military were planning to put in place. She wrote an op-ed for The Guardian:
The policy outlined by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter would require new recruits to be "stable in their identified gender for 18 months, as certified by their doctor, before they can enter the military". How many young trans people like myself fit this criteria? The idea of having a gender certification process is a misuse of the medically accepted standards of care. What is the stability of gender? Isn't gender an inherently unstable concept – always being constrained by the various context and rules under which we live?
I worry that this type of requirement will further entrench the gender binary and further legitimize the control that administrators and medical providers have over our bodies and our identities.
And what about those of us who are incarcerated? Will these rules apply to us? I am deeply concerned that like so many policies, the impact of this change won't penetrate the prison walls. What does it mean that the military will recognize our gender, unless and until we are arrested, and then what? This core identity is then stripped away and our birth assigned sex is imposed on us?
Manning's defense team put out a statement that they were "shocked and outraged" that somebody talked to the press with confidential information about Manning's health condition, but her own attorneys still have no idea what has happened or whether the claim that she attempted suicide is even true. They've been told the military would not be able to schedule a phone conversation with Chelsea until Friday, but they're demanding to speak to her now.