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Army Must Refer to Chelsea Manning As a Woman, Not Man: Court

Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman convicted of leaking national security secrets, must be referred to using feminine pronouns, a court ruled.
Bradley Manning
Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland, after the third day of her court martial on June 5, 2013.Patrick Semansky / AP, file

Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman convicted of leaking national security secrets to Wikileaks, must be referred to with feminine pronouns or in a gender neutral way in legal papers filed in her appeal, an Army Court ruled.

In the order, dated Wednesday, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals said: "Reference to appellant in all future formal papers filed before this court and all future orders and decisions issued by this court shall either be neutral, e.g., Private First Class Manning or appellant, or employ a feminine pronoun." The order, signed by a court clerk, did not make the military change the name of the case in which Manning is referred to as Bradley and Chelsea.

Manning had sought the court order to force the military to use pronouns that conform to her gender identity; the military had opposed such requests, her supporters said in a statement. The Army and Pentagon didn't immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

In a legal filing dated Feb. 9, the Army opposed the request, citing a lack of legal basis and saying Manning didn't show how it was serve the interest of justice. The Army said it would use standard practice when an appellant's name changed during the course of legal proceedings — including both — to "avoid confusion" and would refer to Manning with masculine pronouns.

Manning revealed her gender identity as a transgender female after being convicted and sentenced to 35 years in the military prison at Leavenworth in July 2013. In February, the U.S. Army approved hormone therapy for Manning, saying since she’d been clinically diagnosed and as transgender and was confined to a military prison, it was obligated to provide and pay for her treatments.

"This is an important development in Chelsea’s fight for adequate medical care for her gender dysphoria," Chase Strangio, an ACLU attorney representing Manning in her lawsuit seeking medical care for gender dysphoria. "That fight continues but at least the government can no longer attempt to erase Chelsea’s identity by referring to her as male in every legal filing."