Wiki-Leaks whistleblower to transition behind bars
US soldier and Wiki-Leaks' whistle blower Private Manning revealed in a statement to the Today Show on Thursday she identifies as a woman and will begin the transition process as soon as possible, asking to be referred to from now on as Chelsea.
Manning said she has identified as a girl since childhood. Her statement read:
“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
The soldier, formerly known as Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment at Fort Leavenworth. Manning’s announcement on Thursday of wanting to live out the rest of her life as a woman has thrown up new questions for how the Army will deal with Manning’s request for hormone therapy.
"The prime issue concerns the manner in which Chelsea Manning will be treated in prison, and whether she will have the same access that all prisoners have to treatments that are prescribed to her," said Michael Stillman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund in New York.
"Will the prison in which she is housed allow her doctors to treat her the same way they allow them to treat other prisoners?" he asked.
A Fort Leavenworth spokesperson said at present there are no provisions in place a for hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery at the prison, however Manning will have access to mental health professionals including a psychiatrist and psychologist.
"I'm hoping that Fort Leavenworth will do the right thing and provide that," Manning's attorney, David Coombs, said on the Today show. "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."