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Monday 22 September 2014

I want to live as a woman, says jailed spy Manning

Raf Sanchez in Washington

Published 23/08/2013 | 05:00

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BRADLEY Manning, the soldier jailed for the largest intelligence leak in American history, wants to live as a woman called Chelsea but will not be permitted to start hormone therapy in prison.

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A day after he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for handing thousands of secret files to WikiLeaks, the soldier announced he wanted to be known as "Chelsea Manning".

"As I transition into the next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me," Manning said in a statement released through his lawyer. "I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible."

Manning requested that his supporters now refer to him as "she" and signed the statement "Chelsea E. Manning". The 25-year-old was diagnosed with a gender identity disorder while serving in Iraq and sent his superiors an email of himself dressed as a woman with a blonde wig and make-up.

He is expected to serve out his sentence at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and officials there said he would not be allowed to have hormone treatment while in prison.

The United States Army confirmed yesterday that Manning will not be allowed to begin the medical procedure to become a woman. "The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder," said Jeff Wingo, a spokesman for the base.

It is understood that Manning will not be allowed to have treatment outside the military facility, meaning he will have to wait until his release to undergo therapy.

Although a military judge sentenced him to 35 years, he will be eligible for parole in around seven.

David Coombs, Manning's lawyer, said he hoped "Fort Leavenworth would do the right thing".

He added: "If [it] does not, then I'm going to do everything in my power to ensure that they're forced to do so."

Fort Leavenworth is a male-only prison but Mr Coombs said he would not try to get his client moved to a female facility.

"The ultimate goal is to be comfortable in her skin and be the person she never had an opportunity to be," Mr Coombs said. He said Manning did not indicate that he wanted to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

Mr Coombs added that he expected his client to be pardoned. Manning is expected to send a personal plea to President Barack Obama in the coming days requesting a pardon.

A spokesman for Fort Leavenworth said that while prisoners would not be allowed hormone treatment they would be "treated equally regardless of race, rank, ethnicity, or sexual orientation". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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