(VIDEO) Military Approves Hormone Therapy For Traitor, Prisoner Bradley Manning

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WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) — Chelsea Manning, the convicted national-security secrets leaker, has been approved for hormone therapy for transition to a woman as an inmate at the Army’s Fort Leavenworth prison, according to a memo obtained Thursday by USA TODAY.

Manning remains a soldier, and the decision to administer hormone therapy is a first for the Army.

“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 Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, wrote in a Feb. 5 memo.

Formerly named Bradley Manning, the soldier was convicted of sending classified documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence and is eligible for parole in about seven years.

Manning sued the federal government for access to the treatment. The Army referred questions about Manning to the Department of Justice, which has been handling the case. Nicole Navas, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment, saying the government’s position is detailed in court filings.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Manning in the case, did not have an immediate comment on the Army’s memo.

Manning has asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman. Transgenders are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military and the Defense Department does not provide such treatment. The Department of Veterans Affairs, however, does provide the treatment for veterans.

Last month, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told USA TODAY that the ban on transgender troops is likely to be reassessed and should be lifted.

At Manning’s trial, her attorneys argued that she had been disillusioned by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and believed the release of the documents, including diplomatic cables and military reports, should be seen by the public.

A report by former U.S. surgeon general Joycelyn Elders, sponsored by a LGBT advocacy group, noted that denying transgender troops hormone treatment is inconsistent with treatment offered to other troops. The report estimates that there are 15,000 transgender troops in the ranks.

She sued the Army in federal court last September for the right to the treatments.

Manning received a 35-year prison sentence in August 2013 for leaking a trove of classified information to the website WikiLeaks. Almost immediately after sentencing he said in a statement that he wanted to be known as Chelsea and live as a woman.

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female,” the Army private wrote in a statement read by his attorney, David Coombs. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”

Legal, medical and mental health professionals, even the Veterans Affairs Department, recognize that transgender men and women can qualify for medical treatment. 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.

At Manning’s trial, her attorneys argued that she had been disillusioned by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and believed the release of the documents, including diplomatic cables and military reports, should be seen by the public.

A report by former U.S. surgeon general Joycelyn Elders, sponsored by a LGBT advocacy group, noted that denying transgender troops hormone treatment is inconsistent with treatment offered to other troops. The report estimates that there are 15,000 transgender troops in the ranks.

He sued the Army in federal court last September for the right to the treatments.

—Courtesy of Pat Dollard

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