TIME LGBT

Chelsea Manning Will End Hunger Strike After Army Agrees to Gender Transition Surgery

Chelsea Manning
Uncredited—AP In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army, Pfc. Chelsea Manning poses for a photo wearing a wig and lipstick.

Medical treatment will begin with surgery that was recommended by her psychologist in April

(LEAVENWORTH, Kan.) — A transgender soldier imprisoned in Kansas for leaking classified information to the WikiLeaks website will end a hunger strike after the Army agreed to allow her to receive medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Tuesday.

Chelsea Manning’s medical treatment will begin with surgery that was recommended by her psychologist in April, the ACLU said. Manning began the hunger strike at Fort Leavenworth military prison on Friday, vowing to continue until she received better treatment.

“I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that,” Manning said in a statement. “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. … 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.”

Manning, who was arrested in 2010 as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 in military court of leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks. Manning was an intelligence analyst in Iraq at the time. She is serving a 35-year sentence.

Army spokesman Wayne Hall didn’t immediately respond Tuesday evening to a request for comment.

ACLU attorney Chase Strangio said Manning should “enjoy some peace” knowing the medical care was coming.

“Thankfully the government has recognized its constitutional obligation to provide Chelsea with the medical care that she needs and we hope that they will act without delay to ensure that her suffering does not needlessly continue.”

Strangio said it’s troubling that Manning still faces administrative charges related to a suicide attempt on July 5 at the military prison. She wants the Army to drop those charges and stop efforts to have Manning to cut her hair to male hair length military standards.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in 2014 against the U.S. Department of Defense over its refusal to treat Manning’s gender dysphoria.

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