Bradley Manning wants to live as a woman - WRBL

Bradley Manning wants to live as a woman

Posted: Updated:
In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army, Pfc. Bradley Manning poses for a photo wearing a wig and lipstick. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, File) In this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army, Pfc. Bradley Manning poses for a photo wearing a wig and lipstick. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, File)
FORT MEADE, Md. -

Three years after Bradley Manning rocked the Pentagon by leaking a mountain of secrets, the soldier created a whole new set of potential complications for the military Thursday when he announced he intends to live as a woman named Chelsea and undergo hormone treatment.

Manning's gender-identity struggle — his sense that he is a woman trapped in a man's body — was brought up in his defense at his court-martial, and a photo of him in a blond wig and lipstick was submitted as evidence.

But the latest twist, announced the morning after Manning was sentenced to 35 years behind bars, surprised many and confronted the Pentagon with questions about where and how he is to be imprisoned.

The former Army intelligence analyst disclosed the decision in a statement provided to NBC's "Today" show.

"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.

The statement asked people to use the feminine pronoun when referring to Manning. It was signed "Chelsea E. Manning."

The soldier's attorney, David Coombs, told "Today" he hopes officials at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., accommodate Manning's request for hormone treatment, which typically involves high doses of estrogen to promote breast development and other female characteristics.

However, George Wright, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the Army does not provide such treatment or sex-reassignment surgery. He said soldiers behind bars are given access to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

A lawsuit could be in the offing. Coombs said he will do "everything in my power" to make sure Manning gets his way. And the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign and other advocates for gays, bisexuals and transgender people said he deserves the treatment.

"In the United States, it is illegal to deny health care to prisoners. That is fairly settled law," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Now the Army can claim this isn't health care, but they have the weight of the medical profession and science against them."

A Federal Bureau of Prisons policy implemented last year requires federal prisons to develop treatment plans, including hormone treatment if necessary, for inmates diagnosed with gender-identity disorder. But the bureau oversees only civilian prisons.

Manning's case appears to be the first time the therapy had come up for a military prisoner.

Manning, 25, was convicted of Espionage Act violations and crimes for turning more than 700,000 classified military and diplomatic documents over to the secrets-spilling website WikiLeaks. Coombs said the soldier could be paroled from prison in as little as seven years.

After his sentencing, Manning was returned on Thursday to Fort Leavenworth, where he has been held for more than two years.

Fort Leavenworth is an all-male prison. But the staff has some leeway to separate soldiers from the other inmates based on the risk to themselves and others, prison spokesman George Marcec said.

Manning would not be allowed to wear a wig or bra, and his hair would have to be kept to military standard, Marcec said.

Advocates said gays and transgender people are more susceptible to sexual assault and other violence in prison.

"She most likely will need to be placed with a female prison population because she identifies as female," said Jeffrey Parsons, a psychology professor at Hunter College in New York.

Under a special agreement, the Army sends its female prisoners to a Navy women's jail in Miramar, Calif. It also has an agreement under which it can send soldiers to federal civilian prisons.

Greg Rinckey, a former Army prosecutor and now a lawyer in Albany, N.Y., said Manning's statement could be a ploy to get him transferred to a civilian prison.

"He might be angling to go there because he believes life at a federal prison could be easier than life at the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth," Rinckey said.

He also said the military is adamant about not providing hormone treatment: "You enlisted as a male, you're a male, you're going to be incarcerated as a male."

  • U.S.More>>

  • Hundreds of teens have died playing this old, but popular game

    Hundreds of teens have died playing this old but popular game

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:08 AM EDT2014-07-31 04:08:39 GMT
    It's troubling and alarming an old trend is resurfacing, teens across the country are passing out to get high, and the consequences could be deadly. It begins with rapid breathing, then a sudden gasp
    It's troubling and alarming an old trend is resurfacing, teens across the country are passing out to get high, and the consequences could be deadly.
  • House approves VA health care overhaul

    House approves VA health care overhaul

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:57 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:57:37 GMT
    With a new Veterans Affairs secretary in place and an August recess looming, Congress is moving quickly to approve a compromise bill to refurbish the VA and improve veterans' health care.
    The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to help veterans avoid long waits for health care that have plagued the Veterans Affairs Department for years.
  • Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

    Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:47 PM EDT2014-07-30 23:47:20 GMT
    Republicans are ready to muscle legislation through the House authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law.
    A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Obama and other...
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.