On Friday, former U.S. Army Soldier Chelsea Manning announced a hunger strike until she gets “minimum standards of dignity, respect, and humanity.” Tuesday, the Army agreed to give her medically prescribed gender dysphoria treatment.
“I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that,” Manning released in a statement. “This is all that I wanted — for them to let me be me.”
Manning is currently undergoing a 35-year sentence for releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks. Taken into custody in 2010, Manning was required to serve her sentence in a male-only prison, had to cut her hair short and could not receive treatment for her dysphoria.
In protest, Manning announced her refusal to eat, drink or cut her hair. Five days later, The American Civil Liberties Union — which represents Manning in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense — announced she will begin her surgery.
“It is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long,” she said in the statement. “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.”
Manning will be the first transgender person to receive gender confirmation surgery while in prison. Unfortunately, Manning is still required to cut her hair short while in prison.
“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,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio, according to LGBTQ Nation. “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.”