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Yes, I'll get gender surgery. But I may still be punished for my suicide attempt

By       Message Chelsea Manning       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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Reprinted from The Guardian

United States Disciplinary Barracks
United States Disciplinary Barracks
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Last week I was given the "good news" that the Department of Defense will grant my request to see a surgeon for treatment related to my gender dysphoria. Although I don't have anything in writing, I was shown a memorandum with my name on it that confirmed the military is moving forward with my request. Everything that they have presented to me leads me to believe that they are going to provide the care that has been recommended by my doctor. I have requested this for nearly a year. That same week, I was also given "bad news": I may be punished for a suicide attempt in July.

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For the past week, I have been busy preparing for my disciplinary board. This administrative board has the power to sentence me for indefinite solitary confinement. Preparing to defend yourself for a disciplinary board is time consuming. It takes time to research, collect evidence, and organize a defense. The process is rather stressful. I am facing this alone. I am not allowed to have a lawyer or anyone else with me.

Last week I was escorted to view the evidence before the board. There are now nearly 100 pages. I do not have easy access. I do not have a copy. I could only see it for an hour. Looking through the evidence and taking notes in a hurried manner was very stressful.

In the evidence, I saw a photograph of myself shortly after my suicide attempt. Seeing this photograph has haunted me for the past week. It has disturbed me. It sends a chill down my spine. This hurt me more than any physical injury or hardship I have lived through. This process has forced me to relive one of the worst moments of my entire life.

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I saw the face of a woman who had given up. I saw the face of woman who, for years, has politely asked, formally requested, and desperately begged for help.

I am not alone in my struggle. Suicide pervades the trans community. The risk among our trans siblings with no or inadequate treatment is staggering. In comparison with the general population, the risk is a full order of magnitude higher. While a specific suicide rate among trans prisoners is not available, it is estimated to be significantly higher than among the community outside.

I lack the words to describe how concerned my family and friends are about this board. I lack the words to express how deeply pained I am about this board and the fact that the government is pursuing my punishment so aggressively. How am I supposed to explain this to my family? How am I going to explain this to future generations when they look back and ask how I could have been punished for my own desperation? I have absolutely no idea. I have no idea how to explain it at all.

  • In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here
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    Private Chelsea (Bradley) Manning is the heroic whistleblower whose actions, releasing secret government documents, through Wikileaks, contributed to setting off the Arab Spring and discussions about military policy, diplomatic policy and (more...)
     

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