Most famously known as a whistle-blower, Bradley Manning came out as a woman and hopes to begin hormone therapy to aid her transition to become Chelsea Manning. Manning made the announcement on August 22, one day after she was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to the public via WikiLeaks.
The soldier revealed her identity through a letter addressed to NBC’s the “Today” show in which she asked supporters to refer to her with female pronouns and signed the statement as “Chelsea E. Manning.”
“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,” the letter read.
Manning would like to start hormone therapy and is petitioning to be granted the medication at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Manning now resides.
“If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so,” said defense attorney David Coombs in an interview with Today.
The US Army stated that it, “does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder,” as indicated by CBS news.
A photo of Manning in a blond wig and makeup, which Manning sent to her Army therapist with a note titled, “My problem,” was used as evidence indicating Manning’s struggle with gender identity.
Defense attorneys are saying that Manning’s identity crisis is attributed to her actions and are pleading with the Army for leniency while asking the White House for a pardon.
Supporters of Manning have attended her court case sporting T-Shirts with the word, “truth” spelled out across the front. Since Manning came out as a woman, advocates are now wearing shirts which read, “President Obama: Pardon Bradley Manning.”
Manning’s 35-year sentence was the firmest punishment ever given in the US for leaking information.
“The time to end Brad’s suffering is now,” Coombs said in a news conference after the sentence surfaced. “The time for our president to focus on protecting whistleblowers instead of punishing them is now.”
Now Manning will have to attend her prison sentence in a male prison regardless of the fact that she identifies as a female.
Assuming Manning displays good behavior and since she has been held behind bars for three years could allow for her to be released in seven years, Coombs explained.
Coombs argues that Manning’s actions (as naive as they may have been) were not malicious, but simply motivated by the pursuit of creating change by revealing truth.
Manning’s case has secured headline attention throughout media outlets across the world and has drawn varying opinions on what the appropriate punishment should be for leaking classified information.
Manning was found not guilty of aiding the enemy (which was the most serious of charges) and could have sentenced her to life in jail or possibly the death sentence. She was however, found guilty of releasing over 700,000 documents with classified information to the Internet in 2010, which has now landed her 35 years in prison.
Manning served as an openly gay US officer who worked as an information specialist in a base close to Iraq. In an unsettling moment, Manning became uncomfortable with America’s foreign policy and their involvement with the war in Iraq, which led her to the decision to leak this vital information.
In addition to displaying over 700,000 classified documents, Manning also uploaded a video showing a military helicopter killing eleven men and then targeting shots at a van of children.
Unhappy with the seemingly unnecessary casualties, Manning collected information behind the scenes of US military actions and released the truth to the public.
The country is divided as to the appropriate response to Manning’s actions. Many believe that 35 years in prison is an appropriate punishment for Manning’s actions while a large group of people see her whistle-blowing as a justified release of truth which has been unfairly guarded from the citizens of America.
“Is PFC Manning someone who has no loyalty to this country or the flag,” said Coombs, in his closing remarks in trial, “or, is he a young, naïve but good-intentioned soldier who had human life and his humanist beliefs center to his decision, whose sole focus was: Maybe I just can make a difference, maybe make a change.”
Since Manning’s sentence was released, the solider has come out as a transgender woman which has stirred the case in a whole new direction.