The Army private who leaked classified state departments to Wikileaks, born Bradley Manning, has announced that she would like to be referred to as Chelsea Manning, using feminine pronouns, and wants to begin hormone therapy "as soon as possible."
Though it was widely known that Manning was transgender—her "struggles with gender identity" were used as part of her defense—today marks the first time she herself made her preferences known, through a statement her lawyer read on the Today show:
Subject: The Next Stage of My Life
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
Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for the leak, though could serve less than a third of that. Her lawyer says he hopes that Fort Leavenworth, where Manning will be held, and which doesn't provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery on-site, will do the "right thing" and help her obtain hormone therapy. (Manning, her lawyer says, doesn't want surgery.)