Chelsea Manning will receive gender transition surgery in prison, lawyer says
(CNN) — Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has ended her prison hunger strike after receiving word that she will receive gender transition surgery, her lawyer told CNN.
Manning, a transgender woman, was convicted of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks.
The former US Army soldier is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, an all-male Army prison in eastern Kansas, where her lawyers say she has been denied medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, a condition in which there is a conflict between a person’s physical gender and the gender he or she identifies with.
The government’s refusal to treat her for her condition led to a suicide attempt in July, her lawyers said.
Manning began a hunger strike on September 9 to demand treatment and access to medically prescribed recommendations for her condition. The development means Manning will become the first transgender person to receive gender affirming surgical treatment in prison, according to the ACLU, which is representing Manning.
Manning told her lawyers that she expects “to meet with a team of doctors in the next week or two to move the process forward to prepare for surgery,” ACLU attorney Chase Strangio said in an email.
No “concrete timeline was given,” he said.
The decision is a win for Manning, who began publicly identifying as woman in August 2013, the day after her sentencing. She filed a lawsuit in 2014 against the the Department of Defense so she could grow out her hair, use cosmetics, and receive hormone treatment “in order to express her female gender.”
Last year, the Army agreed to provide her with hormone therapy but would not allow her to groom as a woman.
“I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted — for them to let me be me,” Manning said in a statement through the ACLU.
“I hope this sets a precedent for the thousands of trans people behind me hoping they will be given the treatment they need.”
Strangio applauded the decision but said Manning still faces charges related to her suicide attempt. Her hearing will be held on September 20, he said in a tweet.
“This is a monumental day for Chelsea, who can now enjoy some peace knowing that critically needed medical care is forthcoming. This medical care is absolutely vital for Chelsea as it is for so many transgender people — in and out of prison — who are systemically denied treatment solely because they are transgender,” he said in a statement.
“Thankfully the government has recognized its constitutional obligation to provide Chelsea with the medical care that she needs and we hope that they will act without delay to ensure that her suffering does not needlessly continue.”