US: Chelsea Manning to receive gender confirmation treatment while in all-male military prison

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Chelsea Manning is to start treatment to aid her transition from male to female while in an all-male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, it was announced Thursday.

Although the Defense Department has previously argued that it lacks the medical expertise needed to aid Manning’s transition, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has now approved plans to start her treatment in the military institution.

David Coombs, Manning’s lawyer, told The Associated Press: “It has been almost a year since we first filed our request for adequate medical care. I am hopeful that when the Army says it will start a ‘rudimentary level’ of treatment that this means hormone replacement therapy.”

The announcement follows a rejection by the Bureau of Prisons of the Army’s request to move Manning to a federal facility.

After it was leaked in May that the Pentagon was considering moving Manning, Coombs issued a statement condemning the plans.

He said: “The Pentagon’s strategic leak of this story to the media is a transparent attempt to pressure Chelsea into dropping her request for needed treatment under the artificial guise of concern for her medical needs.

“It is common knowledge that the federal prison system cannot guarantee the safety and security of Chelsea in the way that the military prison system can.”

Manning has previously threatened to sue the US Army over its refusal to provide gender confirmation therapy.

A former intelligence analyst, she was sentenced in August to 35 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act, after she leaked military secrets to WikiLeaks.

Manning will not be officially released from military service until she has concluded her prison sentence. This is despite a current ban on openly transgender people serving in the US military, and a diagnosis by military doctors of gender dysphoria.

According to her lawyers, Manning has not faced mistreatment as a result of her gender identity by staff or in-mates during her time at Fort Leavenworth.