Chelsea Manning is embarking on a hunger strike as she fights back against her treatment in prison

After years of mistreatment in prison, Chelsea Manning is doing what she can to take matters into her own hands, even if it kills her. In a public statement, she announced that she’s going on a hunger strike until she receives humane treatment as a trans woman.

Manning is in the third year of a 35-year prison sentence in a military prison. Although the US government allowed Manning to start receiving hormone therapy in 2015, she is still incarcerated in an otherwise all-male prison and forced to adhere to male military grooming standards, despite her doctors advising the government to let her follow female military grooming standards (because she’s, you know, a woman). And let’s not forget that it took a high-profile lawsuit for her to get any sort of adequate hormone therapy in the first place.

But of course her mistreatment doesn’t stop at harmful transphobia. Manning has also been subjected to long periods of solitary confinement on grounds such as having expired toothpaste and the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair in her cell. She is now scheduled to face an administrative board for her suicide attempt in July 2016, on charges of possessing contraband and refusal to be moved from her cell. There are fears that this may lead to another stretch in solitary confinement, and this time it might be indefinite.

Prison interior
CREDIT: Joel Saget/Getty Images

It’s worth noting that the United Nations considers solitary confinement a violation of human rights equivalent to torture. Basically, Manning is undertaking this hunger strike with the fear of torture hanging over her head, as seen in these excerpts from her statement:

“Today, I have decided that I am no longer going to be bullied by this prison—or by anyone within the U.S. government. I have asked for nothing but the dignity and respect—that I once actually believed would be provided for—afforded to any living human being.”

“Until I am shown dignity and respect as a human again, I shall endure this pain before me. I am prepared for this mentally and emotionally. I expect that this ordeal will last for a long time. Quite possibly until my permanent incapacitation or death. I am ready for this. I need help. Please, give me help.”

Answers to her call for help are already springing up online. Fight for the Future has created a petition to support Manning, addressed to the U.S. Secretary of the Army.