Chelsea Manning Comes Out as Transgender

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Bradley-Manning blog
By Nick Mattos, PQ Monthly
Bradley Manning has come out as transgender and is now known as Chelsea Manning. In a statement to the Today Show, Manning — the soldier accused of illegally obtaining and leaking thousands of classified military and government files to public interest anti-secrecy group Wikileaks — thanked her supporters and articulated her new name:

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.

Thank you,

Chelsea E. Manning

Manning had already been going by the name "Breanna Manning" at least part-time, as was discovered during the investigation. ABC News reported back in December of 2011:

Witnesses at today’s [December 18, 2011] pre-trial hearing were asked by defense attorneys if they knew that Manning is gay and suffered from gender identity disorder.  They noted that he had created a female alter ego, calling himself Breanna Manning.

Pressed by Manning’s defense team, several Army investigators who testified at today’s pre-trial hearing said that in the course of their investigation  they became aware of Manning’s female alter ego.  They also knew that a search of Manning’s room in Baghdad found medical information about female hormone treatments for people with gender identity disorder.

Prosecutors objected to the defense’s line of questioning, but Maj. Matthew Kemkes, Manning’s military attorney, said raising Manning’s homosexuality and his gender identity disorder was important because it would show “what was going on in my client’s mind.â€

Adam Gabbat of the Guardian gives more information about those findings, and information as to whether Manning will have access to hormone therapy while serving her prison sentence:

During her trial it emerged that Manning had emailed a picture of herself, wearing a long blonde wig and lipstick, to her supervisor. In the subject line Manning had written: "My Problem".

Manning's lawyers argued that this was an example of how the soldier's supervisors failed her on numerous occasions and contributed to the stress she was under.

"The stress that [she] was under was mostly to give context to what was going on at the time," Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, told NBC's Today show on Thursday.

"It was never an excuse because that's not what drove [her] actions. What drove [her] actions was a strong moral compass."

Manning has already spent three and a half years in prison awaiting trial. Her sentence was reduced by 112 days in January after a judge ruled she had been subjected to excessively harsh treatment in military detention.

Coombs has confirmed that Manning will spend her sentence at Fort Leavenworth military prison, however a spokeswoman for the prison said this week that treatment for inmates at the prison does not include hormone therapy.

"All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioral science noncommissioned officers with experience in addressing the needs of military personnel in pre- and post-trial confinement," Kimberly Lewis told Courthouse News Service.

"The army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder."

Coombs said on Thursday that he is "hoping" that Fort Leavenworth "would do the right thing" and provide hormone therapy.

"If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so."

The Washington Post reports that it was not yet clear whether Manning will be housed in the general population of Fort Leavenworth prison or will be separated from her fellow prisoners. Furthermore, prison spokesman George Marcec told the Post that soldiers "diagnosed with gender identity disorder" are usually removed from the Army; however, inmates at military prisons cannot be separated from the military until they finish their sentences. As quote-unquote "gender identity disorder" was recently removed from the DSM-V and replaced with gender dysphoria — a diagnosis which emphasizes distress around the incongruity between one's birth gender and the gender one identifies with, rather than on the identity itself being disordered — it is unclear as to what these precedents will mean for Manning and her incarceration.   BlogTail_NickMattos