The U.S. Army informed Chelsea Manning that she will be granted her request to undergo gender transition surgery, a lawyer for 28-year-old former Army private announced Tuesday. Manning is currently serving at 35-year prison sentence in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for leaking classified files to WikiLeaks. Manning had been on a hunger strike to protest her conditions in prison and to the Army’s unwillingness to allow for surgery to treat her gender dysphoria.
Chelsea Manning released a statement on the decision through her lawyer:
“I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing,” Manning said in a statement. “I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted—for them to let me be me.” “But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long,” Manning added. “Also, why were such drastic measures needed? The surgery was recommended back 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 medical care is absolutely vital for Chelsea,” Manning’s ACLU attorney, Chase Strangio, said following the decision. “It was the government’s refusal to provide her with the necessary care that led her to attempt suicide earlier this year, and it was all the more troubling when she became subject to an investigation and possible punishment in connection with the suicide attempt. We hope that the government recognizes that charging Chelsea with the crime of being denied essential health care is outrageous and drops those charges.”