In a first for the U.S. Army, a soldier has been approved to receive hormone therapy for gender transition. That soldier is Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking documents to WikiLeaks.
“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,” Col. Erica Nelson, the commandant of the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas where Manning is an inmate.
Manning sued the federal government for access to the treatment. Manning had asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman.
The Army’s decision means it is simply fulfilling its obligation to provide Manning with medical care, said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, an advocacy group based in Washington. Manning has been diagnosed with a medical condition, and failing to treat it would be “cruel and unusual punishment,” she said.
“If she has a heart attack, they have to treat that, too,” Keisling said. “This is no different.”
Last month, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told USA TODAY the ban on transgender troops is likely to be reassessed and should be lifted.
From 2001 to 2011, there were 3,177 veterans diagnosed with gender identity disorder, according to the VA. The number is increasing annually, it says. There are an estimated 15,000 transgender troops in the ranks.