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U.S. military to start gender treatments for Chelsea Manning

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army will provide gender identity treatment for Chelsea Manning, a soldier who is serving a sentence in a military prison for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Manning, 26, who was born as a man but identifies as a woman, had sought to be transferred to a civilian prison to start hormone therapy. She is serving a 35-year sentence at an all-male facility at Fort LeavenworthKansas.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel "has approved a request by Army leadership to provide required medical treatment for an inmate diagnosed with gender dysphoria," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

It did not give details of the treatment. Legal observers have said Manning's request for hormone treatment was a first for the U.S. military.

Manning, an Army private, was convicted last year of providing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks. It was the biggest breach of classified materials in U.S. history.

A U.S. judge ruled in April that Manning, who had gone by the name Bradley, could legally use the name Chelsea.

A psychiatrist at her trial testified that Manning suffered from gender dysphoria, or wanting to be the opposite sex.