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US Army Finally Allows Chelsea Manning Gender Confirmation Surgery; Manning Ends Hunger Strike

Yesterday, Maddy Myers reported on the ongoing Chelsea Manning situation, and how Manning seems to have gotten less coverage or attention than her fellow whistleblower, Edward Snowden, in large part due to transmisogyny. Well, today there’s a long-overdue glimmer of light in the darkness.

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Manning attempted suicide back in July thanks to the stresses involved in being a trans woman being kept in an all-male prison facility and forced to adhere to male grooming standards set by the US Army. For her attempted suicide, she is currently facing additional charges like “resisting the force cell move team;” “prohibited property;” and “conduct which threatens.” This week, Manning chose to protest her ill treatment and the inadequate care she’s received by going on a hunger strike.

According to The Cut, “she had refused to eat until the Army agreed to let her undergo gender-transition surgery.” Now, that is just what they’ve done. Manning’s lawyers have announced that the US Army has agreed to let her undergo gender confirmation surgery.

In a statement provided by Manning’s lawyer to Buzzfeed, Manning says of the news:

“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. 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.”

We hope that this treatment continues past the surgery. As it stands now, despite having been approved for hormone replacement therapy and gender confirmation surgery, Manning must still adhere to the male grooming standards of the prison. However, that will change, and she’ll be allowed to wear her hair longer, after her surgery. It’s just unacceptable that she’s even had to wait this long.

An even bigger concern is that right now there’s no word that after the surgery Manning will be moved to a women’s facility. Hell, the Army wasn’t even able to confirm for Buzzfeed that the surgery is even happening, and they will likely drag their feet as much as they can, the way they’ve been doing since 2014. Here’s hoping that Manning’s lawyers have the stamina to stay on top of the Army and push for these changes to actually occur.

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.

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