US Army officials have confirmed that jailed soldier Chelsea Manning has ended a hunger strike after they allowed her to undergo a gender transition surgery – that she had been demanding – on Wednesday (14 September).
In a statement, Manning criticised the government for taking so long to allow her to proceed with the surgery, but said: "I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted – for them to let me be me."
Her statement continued, "But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long. Also, why were such drastic measures needed? The surgery was recommended back in April 2016. The recommendations for my hair length were back in 2014. In any case, I hope this sets a precedent for the thousands of trans people behind me hoping they will be given the treatment they need."
Manning, who went on an indefinite hunger strike on Friday (9 September) is serving a 35-year jail term for stealing and leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. The case was ranked as the biggest breach of classified documents in US history.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union said that her treatment would start with a surgery that was suggested by her psychologist in April. Shortly after she was sentenced in August 2013, she identified herself as a woman. The former intelligence analyst is serving the sentence at Fort Leavenworth prison, an all-male facility in Kansas.
The decision also comes after the US military removed a ban on transgender individuals in the armed forces in July. Manning will be treated under US military's new policy which allows troops to transition gender while serving and hopes to raise the bar for medical care.