The US military has agreed to allow transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning to transition behind bars, after she went on hunger strike over her treatment.
Private Manning, who announced her transition to female in 2013, is currently imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth military prison after leaking details of classified government documents concerning alleged war crimes and rights abuses via WikiLeaks.
Manning has sued the US Army for her right to transition behind bars, and has also taken action against her “unjust” 35-year prison sentence – on the basis that her actions helped make public a large number of serious issues related to military practise.
However, progress on both issues has been slow – and Manning was rushed to hospital in July after a suicide attempt.
She took further drastic measures this month, going on hunger strike in a bid to secure a treatment plan.
However, in a statement released via her website this week, Manning confirmed she has now ended her hunger strike as the military agreed to allow her to undergo gender surgery.
A statement said:” Chelsea Manning has ended a hunger strike that she began five days ago, after the U.S. military has agreed to move forward with the recommended treatment for her gender dysphoria.
“Chelsea alerted attorneys and supporters that she was ending the hunger strike after government officials showed her a memo stating that she will receive gender-reassignment surgery, under the DOD’s new policy affecting transgender service members.
“If this occurs, Manning will be the first transgender prisoner in the U.S. to receive this medically recommended treatment, setting a precedent that could benefit thousands of transgender prisoner.”
The Department of Defence this year relaxed an ongoing ban on transgender people serving in the military, which had previously impacted Manning’s treatment as she is held in a military prison.
Manning said: “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.
“But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long. 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.”
Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s attorney at the ACLU, said: “It is a relief to hear that the government has finally agreed to move forward with providing Chelsea with the health care that she is legally entitled to and is medically needed.
“We hope that they will act to provide this care without delay in order to ensure that her suffering does not continue. This medical care is absolutely vital for Chelsea.”
Manning continues to face a string of charges related to her suicide attempt – which could see her facing decades of solitary confinement.