A U.S. military commandant has approved hormone therapy for Chelsea Manning, the army private who in July 2013 was convicted of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, according to Defense Department officials. Manning, who is biologically male and was previously known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, came out as a transgendered woman the month after her conviction.
Col. Erica Nelson, the commandant at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Manning is serving a 35-year sentence, approved hormone therapy to facilitate Manning's gender transition in a Feb. 5 memo, the officials said.
The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The memo approving Manning's hormone treatment was first reported by USA Today.
"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," wrote Nelson, according to USA Today.
Chase Strangio, an attorney with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & HIV Project who represents Manning said "We are thrilled for Chelsea that the government has finally agreed to initiate hormone therapy as part of her treatment plan."
"This is an important first step in Chelsea's treatment regimen and one that is in line with the recommendations of all of her doctors and the basic requirements of the Eighth Amendment," said Strangio.
The Pentagon first signed off on a gender transition for Manning in May 2014, and began what was described as a "rudimentary level" of treatment that July.
The decision to approve hormone treatment came after a lawsuit was filed in September in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It alleged Manning was at a high risk of self-castration and suicide unless she received more focused treatment for gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man's body.
Strangio said "The military continues to refuse to let Chelsea grow her hair like other female prisoners, a critical part of her treatment plan that has been recognized by her doctors. The resistance to meeting Chelsea's full treatment needs is a reflection of the deeply entrenched stigma associated with transgender health care."
On Feb. 10, less than a week after Manning's hormone treatment was reportedly approved, The Guardian newspaper revealed that it had hired her as an opinion columnist.
The military facility at Fort Leavenworth was not immediately available for comment.
With The Associated Press