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Chelsea Manning ends hunger strike as US agrees to gender surgery

Chelsea Manning will be first trans soldier to receive gender surgery in prison
Chelsea Manning will be the first transgender soldier to receive gender surgery in prison

Chelsea Manning has ended her hunger strike as the US army has agreed to provide her with gender transition surgery.

The US soldier jailed for passing data to WikiLeaks began her hunger strike five days ago. She attempted suicide in July over lack of treatment.

Psychologists agreed Manning should be given surgery in April.

‘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.

Since first taken into custody in 2010, Manning was forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, was subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement.

The US Army has so far declined to comment after relenting on giving her gender treatment.

Manning is the first transgender soldier to receive gender confirming surgery in prison.

‘In any case,’ Manning added, ‘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, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said: ‘This is a monumental day for Chelsea, who can now enjoy some peace knowing that critically needed medical care is forthcoming.

‘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.

‘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.

‘It is nonetheless troubling that the government continues to insist that they will enforce the male hair length standards against her and subject her to a disciplinary board over administrative charges related to her suicide attempt in July, which was precipitated by the government’s refusal to adequately treat her for gender dysphoria.

‘Given the recognition of Chelsea’s health care needs, we hope that she is immediately permitted to grow her hair consistent with the standard for female military prisoners and that all charges related to her suicide attempt and the investigation that followed are dropped.’

Manning is serving a 35-year sentence at the Fort Leavenworth military facility in Kansas.

 

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