Imprisoned former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been told by her lawyer that she will be permitted to undergo gender confirmation surgery, making her the first US prison inmate to have access to the procedure.
Manning is currently serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, an all-male Army prison in Kansas, for sharing over 600,000 classified Army documents and videos with WikiLeaks.
Since her sentencing in 2013, Manning, who revealed she was transgender during her trial, has been consistently denied medical treatment for her gender dysphoria.
On September 9, Manning began a hunger strike to protest the lack of treatment, writing: “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.”
The strike ended on Tuesday when it was revealed by Manning’s lawyer that the military would begin providing treatment for her dysphoria, starting with confirmation surgery.
ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, who represents Manning, said the inmate is scheduled “to meet with a team of doctors in the next week or two to move the process forward to prepare for surgery.”
“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 Strangio.
“But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long. Also, why were such drastic measures needed? The surgery was recommended in April 2016. The recommendations for my hair length were back in 2014. In any case, I hope this sets a precedent for the thousands of trans people behind me hoping they will be given the treatment they need.”
“This is a monumental day for Chelsea, who can now enjoy some peace knowing that critically needed medical care is forthcoming,” added Strangio.
“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.”
Though this is a major victory, Manning will still be forced to face charges related to her suicide attempt. Her hearing will be held on September 20.