Chelsea Manning will undergo gender transition surgery, lawyer says

Updated 6:23 PM EDT, Wed September 14, 2016
FILE - In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army, Pfc. Chelsea Manning poses for a photo wearing a wig and lipstick. A military prison psychologist is refusing to recommend that Manning's gender be officially changed to female on her Army employee-benefits file. Lawyers for the transgender solider imprisoned for leaking classified information made the assertion in a federal court filing Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in Washington. (U.S. Army via AP, File)
U.S, Army/AP
FILE - In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army, Pfc. Chelsea Manning poses for a photo wearing a wig and lipstick. A military prison psychologist is refusing to recommend that Manning's gender be officially changed to female on her Army employee-benefits file. Lawyers for the transgender solider imprisoned for leaking classified information made the assertion in a federal court filing Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in Washington. (U.S. Army via AP, File)
Now playing
01:31
Who is Chelsea Manning?
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:07
Bitcoin has an energy problem
Now playing
05:18
Anderson Cooper explains how he overcomes being shy
Now playing
01:32
Scientists turned spiderwebs into music and it sounds like a nightmare
Kristina Barboza
Now playing
03:09
Grieving mom's advice to other families: You can try to help, support and love
Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
Now playing
01:02
Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers question stumps 'Jeopardy!' contestants
Now playing
02:35
WWII veteran: End of the war was 'the biggest thrill of my life'
Now playing
05:18
Coinbase CFO: We're an on-ramp to the crypto economy
CNN
Now playing
02:12
'Too dangerous to do anymore': Sacha Baron Cohen on Borat
Christopher Hamilton
Now playing
01:01
Volcanologist shares what he prefers to cook on lava flows
John Avlon 0413 Wallace
CNN
John Avlon 0413 Wallace
Now playing
03:31
Avlon compares Tucker Carlson's comments to George Wallace
screengrab hong kong oscars
IMDB / Field of Vision
screengrab hong kong oscars
Now playing
02:50
Hong Kong won't air Oscars for the first time since 1968
Now playing
01:27
See the first community of 3D-printed homes
Burlington, MA Headquarters
Nuance
Burlington, MA Headquarters
Now playing
01:34
Microsoft to buy AI company Nuance
Now playing
02:50
Sleep doctor tells Anderson Cooper how long a power nap should be
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell testifies during a Senate Banking Committee hearing about the quarterly CARES Act report on Capitol Hill December 1, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also testified at the hearing. (Photo by Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images)
Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell testifies during a Senate Banking Committee hearing about the quarterly CARES Act report on Capitol Hill December 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also testified at the hearing. (Photo by Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:06
Fed chief: The economy is about to grow more quickly

Story highlights

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

(CNN) —  

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.”