Fort Leavenworth, KS, United States (4E) – Army Private Bradley Manning announced through his lawyer on Thursday that he is female, his name is Chelsea and he wants to undergo hormone replacement therapy to change his gender.
“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” Attorney David Coombs said on the TODAY Show quoting Manning’s written statement. “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.”
The announcement came a day after the now discharged soldier was sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing 750,000 classified government documents and videos to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in 2010. A court martial in Fort Meade, Maryland convicted him of 20 counts of espionage, theft of government property, computer fraud and disobedience in July.
The lawyer said he hopes prison officials in Fort Leavenworth, where Manning is serving her sentence, will provide his client with the therapy that involves taking the female hormone estrogen to develop breasts and other secondary sex characteristics. Otherwise, Coombs said he will force the prison to do so.
However, Kimberly Lewis, a spokeswoman for the prison, told NBC News Thursday that the Army does not provide hormone therapy or even sex-reassignment surgery.
The Human Rights Campaign said Thursday that the military should grant Manning’s wishes as the government has a legal responsibility to provide medically necessary care for transgender people, according to CNN.
Manning’s gender identity disorder (GID) surfaced when she was deployed to Iraq to work as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad. She e-mailed her sergeant an image of herself wearing a blond wig to explain her problem of gender confusion.
The image resurfaced during his trial as the military released it and her defense lawyers used it to argue that GID influenced her judgment and actions. Psychiatrist Dr. David Moulton, who was the defense team’s expert, testified in the trial that Manning was suffering from GID or gender dysphoria, a condition in which a person feels discontented with his or her sex and the gender roles associated with that sex.
In government prisons, there were cases of transgender inmates who received hormone therapy. One of them was Michelle Kosilek, formerly known as Robert. Kosilek, who is serving a life sentence for murdering her wife in 1990, was allowed to undergo sex change operation after a Boston judge agreed with her doctors’ findings that it is the treatment to her GID. Although the ruling is on appeal, Kosilek was allowed to undergo and received hormone therapy plus laser hair removal.
Cases of transgender inmates in military prison are unknown and Manning could be the first such prisoner who will request hormone therapy or even sex-reassignment surgery, though Coombs said she has not discussed it with him.