FORT MEADE, Md. — Bradley Manning plans to live as a woman named Chelsea and wants to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible, the soldier said this morning, a day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for sending classified material to WikiLeaks.
Manning announced the decision in a written 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’s defense attorney David Coombs told “Today” in an interview that he is hoping officials at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., will accommodate Manning’s request for hormone therapy.
Manning’s struggle with gender identity disorder — the sense of being a woman trapped in a man’s body — was key to the defense.
The fight to free Manning has taken a new turn, with Coombs and supporters saying they will ask the Army for leniency — and the White House for a pardon.
With good behavior and credit for the more than three years he has been held, Manning could be out in as little as seven years, Coombs said.
Manning gave more than 700,000 classified military and diplomatic documents, plus battlefield footage, to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. By volume alone, it was the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history.