Convicted Leaker Bradley Manning Wants Gender Change, Says ‘I Am Female’
In a twist to the story of Bradley Manning, who was convicted last month of espionage and other charges and sentenced to 35 years in military prison on Wednesday, the Army private released a letter to the 'Today' show on Thursday saying, "I am Chelsea Manning. I am female."
The 25-year-old thanked his supporters and revealed that he would like "to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible" and he would prefer to be referred to using female pronouns.
Last week, the Army released a photograph that Manning took of himself in a wig and makeup. The photo was attached to an email with the subject line "My problem" that Manning sent to a former supervisor in April 2010. In it, he described his gender-identity crisis:
This is my problem. I've had signs of it for a very long time. Its caused problems within my family. I thought a career in the military would get rid of it. It's not something I seek out for attention, and I've been trying very, very hard to get rid of it by placing myself in situations where it would be impossible. But, it's not going away, its haunting me more and more as I get older.
Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, told 'Today' that he hoped that Fort Leavenworth, the Army facility where Manning is being held, would "do the right thing" by providing the hormone therapy. The Army, however, indicated in a released statement that it would not comply with that request: "The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder. The USDB has implemented risk assessment protocols and safety procedures to address high risk factors identified with the Prison Rape Elimination Act."
The full text of Manning's letter is below:
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.
Chelsea E. Manning