Chelsea Manning will reportedly receive taxpayer-funded hormone therapy for a sex change while serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Formerly Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence analyst who is now transitioning from male to female was convicted in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act for funneling about 700,000 national security documents to Wikileaks, said to be the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history.
Manning, 26, will be eligible for parole in about seven years. The private faced a maximum sentence of 90 years in prison.
In a memo obtained by USA TODAY, Fort Leavenworth’s commandant, Col. Erica Nelson, apparently approved the hormone therapy for Manning, who had previously sued the U.S. government to gain access to the treatment.
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.”
Chelsea Manning is evidently the first soldier to receive transgender hormone therapy at the Defense Department’s expense. According to NPR, prior to the commandant’s decision earlier this month, “courts in the civil system have decided that not providing hormone therapy to transgender inmates is cruel and unusual punishment, but the same wasn’t so of the military.”
Military veterans are eligible for such treatment, however. “The VA won’t pay for veterans to have sexual reassignment surgery but it will pay for hormone treatment and counseling for those who qualify.”
“Transgender people are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military, but Manning can’t be discharged from the service while serving her prison sentence,” AP reported. Apparently Manning will be dishonorably discharged from the Army at the appropriate time.
Earlier this week, Manning was hired as a contributing opinion writer for the American website of the Guardian, a British publication. Manning will write “occasionally from Fort Leavenworth prison on the subjects of war, gender, and freedom of information.”
In a December 2014 essay for the Guardian, Manning wrote in part about difficulties in obtaining basic identity documents that “for those of us in the military, this civil rights violation of trans people’s basic identity is downright life-threatening.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy organization, “The total costs of transgender-specific care for one person are often estimated between $25,000-$75,000.”
[image via Twitter]