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Bradley Manning's prison wish list: Gender reassignment surgery

By April Neale Aug 23, 2013, 7:15 GMT

Bradley Manning's prison wish list: Gender reassignment surgery

Coombs said he doesn\'t fear for Manning\'s safety in prison, and that Manning will not ask to live in a female prison. "Everyone that\'s in a military prison is a first-time offender. These are soldiers who have done something wrong, have gone to prison and are really just trying to do their time and then get out."

Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced to military prison for leaking classified documents, revealed he intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman.

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the Army private revealed on TODAY Thursday. “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.”

Manning, 25, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday after having been found guilty of 20 charges ranging from espionage to theft for leaking more than 700,000 documents to the WikiLeaks website while working in Iraq in 2010.

“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),” Manning continued in the statement. “I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.”

Manning signed his screed, “Chelsea E. Manning.”

Manning’s defense team claimded his struggles with gender identity as a gay soldier were a factor in his decision to leak information. His attorneys presented an email to a former supervisor from April 2010 in which he said he was transgender and joined the Army to “get rid of it.”

The email, titled “My Problem,” had a photo of Manning in drag.

"The stress that he was under was mostly to give context to what was going on at the time," Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Thursday. "It was never an excuse because that's not what drove his actions. What drove his actions was a strong moral compass."

Manning will likely serve the sentence at Fort Leavenworth, the only military prison for service members sentenced to 10 or more years, a Military District of Washington spokesperson told The Associated Press.

Coombs said he is "hoping" that Fort Leavenworth "would do the right thing" and provide hormone therapy for Manning. "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 Army shut down that wish in a statement.

"Inmates at the United States Disciplinary Barracks and Joint Regional Correctional Facility are treated equally regardless of race, rank, ethnicity or sexual orientation," the statement reads. "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.

"The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder. The USDB has implemented risk assessment protocols and safety procedures to address high risk factors identified with the Prison Rape Elimination Act."

In the statement read on TODAY, Manning thanked her supporters. “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.”

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