Chelsea Manning to undergo sex reassignment surgery

WASHINGTON -— Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning has been assured she will receive gender reassignment surgery while in prison, her lawyer said late Tuesday.

Manning, convicted in the massive leak of national security secrets that propelled WikiLeaks to prominence, is serving a 35-year sentence at the Army's prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. She is eligible for parole in about six years.

Manning ended a hunger strike begun last week after receiving assurances that the government would provide the surgery, said Chase Strangio, her lawyer and an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. Manning's doctors recommended in April that she have the male-to-female surgery, Strangio said.

No timeline has been set for her surgery, Strangio said. Manning will meet with her doctors in the next week or two.

Manning sued for access to hormone treatment, and the Army agreed to provide it last year.

In July, the Pentagon repealed its ban on allowing transgender troops to serve. It also announced that it would begin medical treatment for transgender troops, including reassignment surgery.

There are between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender troops in the active-duty force of 1.3 million, according the RAND Corp. which conducted a study for the Pentagon on the issue. Of those troops, RAND estimates that between 30 and 140 would like to seek hormone treatment, and 25 to 130 would seek surgery. The estimated annual price tag: $2.4 million to $8.4 million, per year.

Treatment is estimated to cost as much as $50,000 per soldier. Treatment generally moves from counseling to hormone therapy, and in relatively rare cases, gender reassignment surgery. A military doctor must deem the treatment medically necessary.


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