FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas — The U.S. military has approved hormone treatments for gender reassignment requested by Army private Bradley Manning, who is currently serving a 35-year sentence on espionage charges.
According to reports, the treatments were approved by Col. Erica Nelson, commandant of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The decision comes after a lawsuit was filed last September alleging that the Army was not doing enough to address his gender dysphoria, and that if he did not receive the treatment, he was at high risk for suicide.
Manning had changed his name to Chelsea in August 2013 after being sentenced to prison for admitting to leaking classified information to Wikileaks, which included “more than 700,000 documents, including battlefield reports and U.S. Embassy cables.”
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” he wrote in a statement. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”
This month’s decision to allow the 26-year-old Manning to obtain the treatments is stated to be the first in military history.
“After carefully considering the recommendation that [hormone treatment] is medically appropriate and necessary, and weighing all associated safety and security risks presented, I approve adding [hormone treatment] to inmate Manning’s treatment plan,” Nelson wrote in a memo.
“We are thrilled for Chelsea that the government has finally agreed to initiate hormone therapy as part of her treatment plan,” Chase Strangio, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told CNN. “This is an important first step in Chelsea’s treatment regimen and one that is in line with the recommendations of all of her doctors and the basic requirements of the Eighth Amendment.”
While Manning was granted his request for hormone therapy, he was also disallowed from growing his hair long.
“The military continues to refuse to let Chelsea grow her hair like other female prisoners, a critical part of her treatment plan that has been recognized by her doctors,” Strangio said.
Public reaction to the matter has been largely in opposition to the decision.
“I cannot believe that I as a taxpayer, who just got home from working hard all day, have to pay taxes for this nonsense,” one commenter wrote.
“I am an Army surgeon and they won’t pay for my contacts,” another wrote. “Wow. This is amazing.”
“What?” a third stated. “We have soldiers waiting months to take care of service related injuries, but the VA has to spend time making men into drag queens?”