Bradley Manning, the US soldier convicted of giving
classified state documents to WikiLeaks, is pictured
dressed as a woman in this 2010 photograph obtained earlier
this month. REUTERS/US Army
Bradley Manning, the US soldier sentenced to 35 years in
military prison for the biggest breach of classified documents
in the nation's history, says he is female and wants to live as
a woman named Chelsea.
Manning, 25, launched an unprecedented bid to get female
hormone treatment in a military prison a day after he was
sentenced for leaking documents to the WikiLeaks website.
"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want
everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning, I am a
female," Manning said in the statement read by anchorwoman
Savannah Guthrie on NBC News' "Today" show.
During the sentencing phase of Manning's court-martial for
leaking more than 700,000 secret documents, defense attorneys
pointed out that the soldier suffered from gender identity
disorder. A psychologist testified Manning had a difficult
time adjusting to the "hypermasculine environment" of a
Manning said in the statement that he wished to begin
receiving hormone therapy while serving his sentence in Fort
A spokeswoman said the Army did not provide hormone therapy
or gender-reassignment surgery. Coombs said Manning was
seeking hormone therapy, but not gender-reassignment surgery.
"Given the way that I feel and have felt since childhood, I
want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible," Manning
said in the statement. "I also request that starting today
you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun."
Manning's lawyer David Coombs said on the TV programme he
expected his client to get a pardon from US President Barack
Obama. Manning could be eligible for parole in seven years.
Manning was convicted last month on 20 charges, including
espionage and theft.
During the trial, Coombs had argued that Manning had been
increasingly isolated and under intense stress when he leaked
the files, and that his superiors had ignored warning signs.
Coombs he would press Fort Leavenworth to provide the hormone
"I'm hoping that Fort Leavenworth will do the right thing and
provide that. If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I'm going to
do everything in my power to make sure that they are forced
to do so," Coombs said.
An Army spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, "The Army
does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment
Military inmates have access to mental health professionals,
including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and
behavioral science specialists, she said.
'COMFORTABLE IN HER SKIN'
Asked if Manning wanted to be sent to a women's prison,
Coombs said no.
"I think the ultimate goal is to be comfortable in her skin
and to be the person that she's never had an opportunity to
be," he said.
Coombs said he was not worried about Manning's safety in a
military prison since inmates there were first-time offenders
who wanted to complete their sentences and get out.
Experts generally view military prisons as safer than
civilian prisons since the inmates are accustomed to
hierarchy and discipline.
Manning had not wanted his sexual identity issues to become
public, but they did after his arrest in 2010, Coombs said.
"Now that it is (public), unfortunately you have to deal with
it in a public manner," he said.
A psychiatrist, Navy Reserve Captain David Moulton, testified
during Manning's trial that the soldier suffered from gender
dysphoria, or wanting to be the opposite sex, as well as
narcissism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Geoffrey Corn, a military law expert at the South Texas
College of Law in Houston, called Manning's bid for hormone
treatment the first of its kind for the military, especially
since openly gay members were barred from serving until the
"don't ask, don't tell" policy was repealed in 2011.
"We don't have any precedent for the application of military
medical care for elective gender reassignment therapy," he
Corn was skeptical that Manning would get approval for
hormone therapy since federal courts have traditionally given
the military deference for its life and activities.
"I don't see it happening," he said.