One day after being sentenced to 35 years in a military prison, the former Fort Drum soldier who leaked classified documents to the website Wikileaks says he wants to live out the rest of his life as a woman. As our Brian Dwyer reports, Bradley Manning has wanted the change since childhood.
FORT MEADE, Md. -- With his attorney appearing on NBC's "Today" show Thursday, Bradley Manning, one day after being sentenced to 35 years in a military prison, decided to make a written announcement. He plans to live the rest of his life as a woman, named Chelsea.
In the letter, Manning wrote, "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 I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to start hormone therapy as soon as possible."
Manning is hoping that he can receive that therapy while serving out his sentence, which could see him released in seven years with good behavior.
The Army has said it does not provide hormone therapy or any gender-reassignment surgeries.
Manning's attorney, David Coombs, told "Today" he will fight that decision.
"If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so," Coombs said, also noting he believes Manning will get a presidential pardon.
During Manning's trial, his defense presented Manning's struggle with identity. It even submitted a photo of Chelsea wearing a wig and lipstick into evidence.
Manning originally emailed that photo to his therapist. Local counselors around Manning's former post at Fort Drum say struggles with gender identity are a serious issue.
"You can imagine, for someone like Bradley Manning, being in the military where, until recently, anything like this was absolutely anathema, that must have been a tremendous struggle for him," David Brown of the Thousand Islands Counseling Associates said.
Brown says it's not really possible to know what Manning was going through when he leaked those documents, but he says that feeling of afraid and emptiness that comes with internal struggles is a big factor in people doing things they normally wouldn't do in an effort to fill in that gap.
The National Center on Transgender Equality has already come out against the Army's decision to deny Manning the therapy. The executive director told ABC news that arguing transgender-related care is not health care is not a winning argument anymore.