Convicted WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning will begin gender transition while serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified government documents, now that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved her request to receive treatment while in custody.
The military has a strict ban on transgender men and women serving, and along with it, a ban on any medical services related to transgender issues. Earlier this year, Manning was denied a request by the Bureau of Prisons to transfer from the all-male military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas to a civilian prison, where she could receive better treatment for what has been diagnosed as gender dysphoria.
The AP reports that Manning’s approved treatment will be “rudimentary,” and will likely only consist of allowing her to wear female undergarments and “possibly” include hormone treatments.
According to the AP, Manning requested a three-tier treatment plan:
She asked that a treatment plan consider three types of measures: “real life experience,” a regimen in which the person tries dressing and living in the new gender; hormone therapy, which changes some physical traits such as breast and hair growth; and sex reassignment surgery. Manning has not publicly said whether she wants surgery, and the proposed plan was not released.
Although it doesn’t sound like the military is really concerned about giving Manning the proper treatment, her attorney David Coombs is hopeful. “It has been almost a year since we first filed our request for adequate medical care,” he told the AP. “I am hopeful that when the Army says it will start a ‘rudimentary level’ of treatment that this means hormone replacement therapy.”
The Bureau of Prisons’ refusal to accept Manning’s transfer out of the military prison has more or less forced the military to deal with the situation (and hopefully develop better and more inclusive policies regarding trans service members). They have not yet announced when Manning’s gender transition plan will begin.