Bradley Manning: 'I am a female,' call me Chelsea

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who now asks to be referred to as Chelsea, dressed as a woman in this 2010 photograph.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who now asks to be referred to as Chelsea, dressed as a woman in this 2010 photograph. U.S. Army handout/Reuters/Landov

"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."

That's part of a statement from Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to NBC-TV's Today show.

Manning, the former intelligence analyst who was responsible for the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison. He could be paroled in as soon as seven years.

In the statement read Thursday on Today, the 25-year-old Manning asks that "starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility)."

As The Associated Press writes, "Manning's struggle with gender identity disorder — the sense of being a woman trapped in a man's body — was key to the defense. Attorneys had presented evidence of Manning's struggle with gender identity, including a photo of the soldier in a blond wig and lipstick sent to a therapist."

Thursday on Today, Manning's attorney, David Coombs, said testimony about "the stress that [Manning] was under was mostly to give context to what was going on at the time. ... It was never an excuse because that's not what drove his actions. What drove his actions was a strong moral compass."

Manning is expected to serve his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. According to Courthouse News Service, the prison there "does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery to inmates."

But Coombs said on Today that he hopes Fort Leavenworth "would do the right thing" and provide such therapy for Manning. "If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so," he said.

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