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Manning: Why I announced sex swap

Whistleblower soldier Bradley Manning decided to announce that he wanted to live as a woman the day after he was sentenced because a military prison said it would not provide hormone treatment, his lawyer said.

David Coombs said Manning, who now wants to be known as Chelsea, had known for a long time he would make such a statement, but "she wanted, essentially, for the media surrounding the trial to dissipate".

Manning did not want people to think the statement was insincere. "People might think it was an effort to get further attention," said Mr Coombs, of Providence, Rhode Island.

Mr Coombs said he and Manning knew the US Army might not provide hormone treatment but were hoping the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, would allow it since Manning had been diagnosed with gender-identity disorder by an army psychiatrist who gave evidence at his trial.

It was not until they read a Courthouse News Service story that Manning decided to make the announcement. The story quoted prison spokeswoman Kimberly Lewis saying the prison would not provide hormone therapy. It was published on August 20, the day before Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking mountains of classified material to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

"It was Chelsea's intent to do this all along," Mr Coombs said. "It was only after Fort Leavenworth had said that they would not provide any sort of medical treatment that we decided not to wait."

Mr Coombs said he hoped the military prison "will simply do the right thing" so Manning will not have to sue in military or civilian court. He said at this point Manning did not want sex-reassignment surgery and expected to be kept with men in prison. The Fort Leavenworth prison is all-male.

Mr Coombs said he had seen online people objecting to taxpayer-funded hormone therapy and said Manning would pay for it.

Hormone therapy, which typically involves high doses of oestrogen to promote breast development and other female characteristics, could help Manning, he said, adding: "It's just to be comfortable in her own skin."

Manning was demoted from private first class to private at sentencing. He will be dishonourably discharged when he finishes the prison sentence. The earliest he can be released on parole is 2020.


From Belfast Telegraph