Bradley Manning is gone. The U.S. soldier convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has revealed that he now wants to be called Chelsea Manning, and has launched a bid to begin hormone therapy in prison as soon as possible.
YouTube Chelsea Manning, Bradley Manning's new identity
“I am Chelsea Manning,” Private Manning announced in a letter read by his attorney on the U.S. morning show “Today” on Thursday.
“As I transition into the next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.
“I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun,” his letter partly reads.
Mr Manning has not yet applied for legal sex reassignment and name change.
The Army doesn’t provide hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery, but Mr Manning’s defence attorney, David Coombs, said that the military prison will accommodate the soldier’s request for hormone therapy.
If not, Mr Coombs said he will “do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so.”
“All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers, and behavioural science non-commissioned officers,” Army spokesman George Wright has been quoted by AP as saying.
Mr Manning, 25, found guilty of 20 crimes, including violations of the Espionage Act, in July. It was learned that he released 700,000 classified documents to the public by giving the information to WikiLeaks.
He was sentenced to 35 years in prison on August 21, Wednesday, with a credit of 1,293 days for serving his time during pre-trial detention and 112 days for his treatment at Quantico. He is expected to serve his sentence at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
When asked why he waited until Thursday to announce his sexuality, his lawyer answered to NBC, “Chelsea didn’t want this to be something that would overshadow the case. She wanted to wait until the case is done to move forward to the next stage in her life.”
Mr Coombs also said that the convicted soldier did not ask to be sent to a women’s prison. The attorney added that he wasn’t worried about his client’s safety in a military prison where the general populace is male because the inmates service there were first-time offenders who just wanted to complete their sentences.
“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.”