Chelsea Manning (AP Photo/U.S. Army, File)

Chelsea Manning may be transferred to a civilian prison to begin hormone therapy

Chuck Hagel has approved a request to “evaluate potential treatment options for ... gender dysphoria"

Katie McDonough
May 14, 2014 6:37PM (UTC)

The Pentagon may be poised to transfer Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison so that she can begin hormone therapy related to her gender transition.

Manning was convicted last year of passing classified national security documents to WikiLeaks, and has been serving her 35-year sentence in a men's military facility. She successfully petitioned last month to change her name, and has requested hormone therapy as part of her transition.


Manning is the first trans member of the military to request hormone treatment while incarcerated, which has helped apply pressure to the Pentagon to review its policies banning trans service members and transition-related healthcare. Defense Department guidelines refer to transgender people as "sexual deviants," and trans service members can be summarily dismissed.

More from the New York Times:

Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had approved a request from the Army to “evaluate potential treatment options for inmates diagnosed with gender dysphoria.” [...]

Admiral Kirby said that no decision on the army request, first reported by The Associated Press, had been made, and that any decision to transfer Private Manning to a civilian facility “will, of course, properly balance the soldier’s medical needs with our obligation to ensure Private Manning remains behind bars.”

Admiral Kirby was speaking to reporters traveling with Mr. Hagel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Private Manning has been denied clemency; a judge recently upheld her 35-year prison sentence for providing secret files to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified materials in American history. Aboard his flight to Jeddah on Monday night, Mr. Hagel repeated recent public remarks that the military should “continually” review its prohibition on transgender people in the armed forces, raising the prospect that the Pentagon’s ban may eventually be lifted, as was the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.

While any such reversal appears to be far in the future — the Pentagon’s standard talking point on the issue has been that it is under continuous review — Mr. Hagel said again that: “Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.”

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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