FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Bradley Manning wants to live as a woman named Chelsea and begin hormone treatment as soon as possible, the soldier said a day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for sending government secrets to WikiLeaks.
Manning announced the decision Thursday in a statement provided to NBC's "Today" show, asking supporters to refer to him by his new name and the feminine pronoun. The statement was signed "Chelsea E. Manning."
"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," the statement read.
Manning received the stiffest punishment ever handed out in the U.S. for leaking information to the media. With good behavior and credit for the more than three years of time served, Manning could be out in as little as seven years, his attorney David Coombs said.
Coombs told "Today" he hoped officials at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., will accommodate Manning's request for hormone treatment, but the Army said it doesn't provide it or sex-reassignment surgery.
"All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioral science noncommissioned officers," Army spokesman George Wright said.
Coombs said he would do "everything in my power to make sure" Manning received hormone treatment. He did not respond to phone and emails from The Associated Press.
Manning's struggle with gender identity disorder — the sense of being a woman trapped in a man's body — was key at his court-martial.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Paul Adkins testified as a defense witness, saying in April 2010, just a month before Manning was arrested, the soldier emailed him a picture of himself in a blonde wig and lipstick with a letter titled, "My problem."
"I don't know what to do anymore, and the only 'help' that seems to be available is severe punishment and/or getting rid of me," the email said. "All I do know, is that fear of getting caught has caused me to go to great lengths to consciously hide the problem."
Manning's attorney said the email was evidence the military knew of Manning's struggles, yet allowed him to stay in Iraq as an intelligence analyst and keep his security clearance.
Meanwhile, Coombs and supporters said they will ask the Army to reduce Manning's sentence and they want President Obama to grant a pardon.
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