Imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning ended her hunger strike Tuesday after the Army agreed to provide medically prescribed treatment for her gender dysphoria.
The news was announced in a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represents Manning in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense that was first filed in 2014 over the department’s refusal to treat Manning.
The announcement notes that treatment will begin with the surgery that was recommended by her psychologist 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. “But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long. Also, why were such drastic measures needed? The surgery was recommended 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.”
Via the ACLU’s announcement:
“Since she was first taken into custody in 2010, Manning, a transgender woman being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, was subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement during her court martial and has been denied medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria. On September 9, she began a hunger strike to demand, among other things, that she be treated with the medically necessary and recommended care for her gender dysphoria.”
Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU, 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.”
Chelsea is set to become the first transgender person to receive gender affirming surgical treatment in prison, despite doctors’ recommendations in cases across the country.