BALTIMORE (AP) — A lawyer for Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning said in a blog post on Thursday the soldier is doing well as she goes through processing at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth.
David Coombs wrote that he spoke on Wednesday with Manning, previously known as Bradley Manning, while she goes through the three-to-four-week period known as indoctrination at the Kansas prison. Coombs, who lives in Rhode Island, also said he plans to travel there in the coming weeks to meet with medical staff and the leadership in the quest to allow Manning to receive hormone therapy and other treatment for her gender dysphoria — the sense of being a woman trapped in a man’s body.
Coombs went on the “Today” show last week, a day after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for giving government secrets to WikiLeaks, to announce that Manning wants to live as a woman named Chelsea and begin hormone treatment as soon as possible.
“These requests address a serious medical need of Chelsea and are consistent with the general medical community’s practice of adequate medical care for those with gender dysphoria,” Coombs wrote.
It is Army policy not to provide such treatment; soldiers diagnosed with gender dysphoria are administratively discharged. But Manning cannot be discharged until he completes his prison sentence and exhausts all appeals of his court-martial.
When asked by The Associated Press on Thursday whether Manning has yet requested treatment, Coombs said in an email it was too soon to provide additional information. He told the AP earlier in the week that if the Army refuses to pay for it, Manning would pay, but it is not clear whether the prison will allow that.
Army Medical Command spokeswoman Maria Tolleson said soldiers are allowed on a case-by-case basis to pay for procedures not covered by the military’s medical insurance program, such as elective cosmetic surgery. Manning was diagnosed with gender dysphoria.