Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army whistleblower who leaked thousands of internal military and State Department documents to help expose wrongdoing by the U.S. government, will receive the hormone treatment she has been fighting to receive since she was first sent to Ft. Leavenworth prison in 2013.
Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for releasing, among other materials, video footage of U.S. soldiers gunning down civilians from a helicopter in Iraq in 2007. Following her conviction, Manning came out publicly as transgender and soon upon her arrival at Ft. Leavenworth requested that she been given the hormone therapy which the medical community officially agrees is essential to her health and well-being.
According to USA Today, which first broke the news:
In a first for the Army, Chelsea Manning, the convicted national-security secrets leaker, has been approved for hormone therapy for transition to a woman at the Army's Fort Leavenworth prison, according to a memo obtained Thursday by USA TODAY.
Manning remains a soldier as well as an inmate.
"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," Col. Erica Nelson, the commandant of the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas, wrote in a Feb. 5 memo.
Formerly named Bradley Manning, the soldier was convicted of sending classified documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence and is eligible for parole in about seven years.
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At Manning's trial, her attorneys argued she had been disillusioned by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and believed the release of the documents, including diplomatic cables and military reports, should be seen by the public.
Chase Strangio, an attorney with the ACLU who has served as counsel in Manning's lawsuit against the Army, welcomed the development but called it only an important first step in providing his client with the treatment to which she is entitled.
"The delay in treatment came with a significant cost to Chelsea and her mental health and we are hopeful that the government continues to meet Chelsea's medical needs as is its obligation under the Constitution so that those harms may be mitigated," Strangio said in the statement.
The attorney also raised concerns over what appears to be the leak of Manning's medical files, which he called a breach of privacy and an affront to an existing protection order. "Ongoing leaks from the military about her medical situation, without Chelsea’s authorization, is of great concern," Strangio said. "The irony that she is the subject of leaks doesn’t escape her," he added.
Earlier this week, the Guardian newspaper announced Manning has been brought on as a contributing opinion writer, who comment on issues ranging from transgender rights, national security, and the role of whistleblowers. Her column will be written from Ft. Leavenworth and the position is unpaid.
As the Guardian notes Friday, Manning wrote a column for the newspaper in December in which she articulated her view that gender identity is one of the great civil rights issues of the modern day. She wrote: "For those of us in the military, this civil rights violation of trans people’s basic identity is downright life-threatening."