Announcing the “Chelsea Manning Support Network”

By the Support Network. March 19, 2014.

How Chelsea sees herself, as interpreted my artist Molly Crabapple.

How Chelsea sees herself, as interpreted by artist Molly Crabapple

As we’ve discussed previously on this website, Army whistleblower PVT Manning came out publicly as transgender on August 22, 2013, when her trial attorney David Coombs read a statement on NBC News announcing her desire to live as a woman named “Chelsea.” This announcement represented the result of a long process of personal introspection and discovery, which started before her arrest in May of 2010.

PVT Manning has recently filed to change her name legally from “Bradley Edward Manning” to “Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.” She also wishes to receive Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which is recommended by doctors as appropriate treatment for her diagnosed gender dysphoria.* She reports that she has made friends at Fort Leavenworth, and only wishes to be able to live as herself.  

In the face of military opposition, the American Civil Liberties Union plans to assist attorney David Coombs in advocating for Chelsea’s right to receive HRT. There is already precedent in federal courts establishing this right for transgender prisoners. We are confident that with adequate public and legal pressure, the military court and military prison system will follow suit.

To show our support during this struggle, and for her legal name change, we are renaming our organization and website to the “Chelsea Manning Support Network.” Chelsea has responded to this decision with enthusiastic approval.

* EDIT 3/25/14: When originally published, this article stated that “Chelsea does not, at this time, wish to undergo any surgeries or to be transferred to a different prison.” Chelsea has provided us with further clarification that her current request to the Leavenworth facility is for comprehensive treatment for gender dysphoria, and may or may not include particular treatments in the future, depending on her counselor’s recommendations.


P.S. For a better understanding of transgender people and the issues important to them, we recommend checking out GLAAD’s “Transgender 101” blog.

For instructions on writing to Chelsea to tell her of your support, please see our “Write Chelsea Manning” webpage.


4 thoughts on “Announcing the “Chelsea Manning Support Network”

  1. So Pvt. Manning filed a petition for name change, in a state court, while being a federal inmate, am I right? And it is not yet done deal, correct?

    It is highly very likely that the court will reject this petition as prisoners are not usually entitled to name changes while incarcerated, and the state court has no authority to override the federal jurisdiction over military prisoners, both owing to the supremacy clause and federal exclusive jurisdiction on armed forces.

    • You are correct Emily. Depending on the state where the filing ultimately occurs, it is likely a name change petition may never be granted. Modern american limitations extend beyond just being a prisoner; usually you must argue justification for the name change and in many states simply having a criminal record of any kind will prevent the success of the petition.
      After all, this is America. We have no rights to our bodies, our words or our thoughts. Why should we have any right to our own name?

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