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Bradley Manning asks for support in gender transition

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A day after having been sentenced to 35 years in jail for releasing classified material to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning announced that she hopes to start hormone therapy and live as a woman named Chelsea.

Attorney David Coombs’ defense of his client centered in part on Manning’s severe gender confusion and the effects of an unfriendly military environment on an already difficult issue to process. Psychiatrist Capt. David Moulton diagnosed Manning with gender dysmorphia (as well as OCD and narcissistic tendencies) and testified about that diagnosis during the trial. A photo of Manning in drag had circulated during his trial. 

"As I transition into this next phase of my life,” Manning said in a statement read by newscaster Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s Today, “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 hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).”

Here's the statement in full:

Subject: The Next Stage of My Life

I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.

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. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.

Thank you,

Chelsea E. Manning

Coombs clarified that Manning was seeking hormone therapy, not a sex change, and that she was not asking to be confined in a women’s prison facility.

"I'm hoping that Fort Leavenworth will do the right thing and provide that,” said Coombs. “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.” 

Manning is destined for a military prison for first-time offenders. Military prisons in general are believed to be safer, given the inmates’ experience with discipline and hierarchy. That does not mean that she runs no risks, of course. 

H/T Reuters | Photo by Bradley Manning Support Network/Flickr