Chelsea Manning, a transgender soldier in the US Army, was imprisoned after leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. She has been held at the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and asserts that she has been treated inhumanely during her time there. She began a hunger strike last week to protest her treatment at the barracks. She’s announced that she is ending her hunger strike because the army has agreed to allow her to get medical treatment for her gender dysphoria. According to the ACLU, Manning is the first person to undergo gender-affirming surgery in prison. Manning released this statement through the ACLU:
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?
Two days ago, before this news broke, Michael Stipe expressed his concern for Manning in a brief video encouraging people to sign a petition for her fair treatment. In the clip Stipe says:
I’m Michael Stipe and I support human rights for all people. As an American patriot, it is my duty to stand with Chelsea Manning. After years of mistreatment in prison, she tragically attempted to take her own life. Instead of giving her the treatment that she needs, the government is now threatening her with indefinite solitary confinement. This is unjustifiable, it is unfair, and it needs to be stopped. You can help me stop it now. Sign the petition at FreeChelsea.com. Spread the word across all platforms. Thank you very much.
If you wish to sign the petition for her continued fair treatment you can do so here.
UPDATE: Here’s an updated message from Stipe…
— R.E.M. HQ (@remhq) September 15, 2016