Chelsea Manning could become the first prisoner to receive gender transition surgery
Manning tells lawyers she expects to meet with doctors soon to start preparations
Imprisoned former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has learned that she will receive gender transition surgery, her lawyer told CNN, in what could make her the first US prison inmate to undergo such a procedure.
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, despite her request to transfer to a civilian prison. 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 sex 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. It ended on Tuesday when she received word that the military will provide treatment for her gender dysphoria, beginning with surgery recommended by her psychologist, according to the ACLU, which is representing Manning.
The Army declined to confirm the claim, saying “We cannot and will not discuss the medical needs of individuals.”
A new Department of Defense policy, which takes effect in October, lays out processes under which service members may transition. Under the policy, “service members with a diagnosis from a military medical provider indicating that gender transition is medically necessary will be provided medical care and treatment for the diagnosed medical condition.” It is not clear if or how the policy applies to inmates like Manning.
’This is all that I wanted’
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 development could make Manning the first transgender person to receive gender affirming surgical treatment in any US prison, military, state or federal, the ACLU said.
Manning began publicly identifying as a woman in August 2013, the day after her sentencing. She filed a lawsuit in 2014 against the Department of Defense so she could grow out her hair, use cosmetics and receive hormone treatment “in order to express her female gender.”