Chelsea Manning ends hunger strike after winning surgery fight
Army says imprisoned soldier will be allowed to receive gender transition surgery
Chelsea Manning: “I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that.” Photograph: AP Photo/US Army
The imprisoned US soldier Chelsea Manning has ended a hunger strike after the army said she would be allowed to receive gender transition surgery, the American Civil Liberties Union has announced.
Ms Manning (28), who is serving a 35-year prison term for passing classified files to WikiLeaks, began the hunger strike on Friday.
Ms Manning’s treatment would begin with the surgery that was recommended by her psychologist in April, said the ACLU, which represented Ms Manning, who is held in Kansas.
Ms Manning criticised the government in a statement for taking “so long” but 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.”
The army private formerly known as Bradley Manning revealed after being convicted of espionage that she identified as a woman.
No transgender inmate had ever before received such surgical treatment in prison, the ACLU said.
Ms Manning in July attempted suicide over what her representatives said was the government’s denial of appropriate treatment for her gender dysphoria, a condition in which a person feels their physical gender is the opposite of the one he or she identifies with.
The army announced later that month that it would investigate Ms Manning for misconduct in connection with the attempt to take her own life, a probe that could lead to indefinite solitary confinement, reclassification into maximum security or additional prison time.
According to Ms Manning’s representatives, doctors have recommended that as part of her treatment for gender dysphoria the soldier, who began hormone therapy in 2015, be allowed to follow “female hair grooming standards”.
ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio said in Tuesday’s statement that the government planned to still enforce the male hair standards.
Bradley Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in prison after a military court conviction of providing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The case ranked as the biggest breach of classified materials in US history.
Among the files Bradley Manning leaked in 2010 was a gunsight video of a US Apache helicopter firing on suspected Iraqi insurgents in 2007, an attack that killed a dozen people including two Reuters news staff.