By Debbie Gregory.
Chelsea Manning, the Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, will receive gender transition surgery while in prison, her attorney announced.
Manning went on a hunger strike in protest of the Army’s treatment of her gender dysphoria, which she ended after receiving approval for male-to-female transition surgery. Prior to the hunger strike, Manning attempted suicide in her cell. She could face additional charges related to that attempt.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense in 2014 over its refusal to treat Manning’s gender dysphoria. Cost for the transition surgery is around $50,000 and will be paid for by the Department of Defense.
Born as Bradley Edward Manning, the 28-year-old announced after her espionage conviction that she identifies as a woman. She enlisted in the Army in September, 2007, hoping to gain a college education through the G.I. Bill, and perhaps to study for a PhD in physics. She also hoped joining such a masculine environment would resolve her gender identity disorder.
Manning began basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in October, 2007. Standing approximately 5 ft 2 in and weighing just over 100 pounds, Manning was allegedly bullied, and in the opinion of another soldier, was having a breakdown.
According to Manning, she soon realized that she was neither physically nor mentally prepared for the military. Six weeks after enlisting, she was sent to the discharge unit.
The decision to discharge her was revoked, and she started basic training again in January, 2008. After graduating, she moved to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in order to attend Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 35F, intelligence analyst, receiving a TS/SCI security clearance (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information).
In January, 2010, Manning, downloaded 491,000 classified documents that later became known as the Iraq War logs. Manning first offered the files to The Washington Post and The New York Times. When neither publication accepted, Manning passed the files to WikiLeaks.
Manning pleaded guilty, and is currently serving a 35-year sentence at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.