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Why the Convicted WikiLeaks Spy Wants to Serve Prison Sentence as a Woman

Last year, Pfc. Bradley Manning was convicted to 35 years in a military prison for leaking 700,000 secrets to WikiLeaks. Now, Manning has announced he wants to serve his time as a woman.

Shortly after his conviction last year Manning – now known as Chelsea – announced she is transgender and wants to be given hormone treatments to better enable her to live as her true gender.

“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning said in a statement last August. “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.”

Leavenworth prison authorities so far have not challenged a request to have Manning’s name be changed from Bradley to Chelsea and one military doctor has even prescribed hormones to help Manning transition into living as a female.

All is currently in limbo, however, as the Pentagon -which does not allow transgender troops- figures out how to deal with a transgender, military prisoner who cannot be discharged for 35 years.

Pentagon officials are now mulling over the possibility of transferring Manning to a civilian facility where she can serve out her time in a more suitable environment and get the help she needs.

“No decision to transfer Pvt. Manning to a civilian detention facility has been made, and any such decision will, of course, properly balance the soldier’s medical needs with our obligation to ensure Pvt. Manning remains behind bars,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in response to questions about the unprecedented case.

Manning, though, has long said that living life as a woman is the only choice she has despite the hardship it has created most of her life, including now.

“I have had signs of it for a very long time. It’s caused problems within my family,” Manning wrote prior to her conviction.

“I thought enlisting in the military would get rid of it. . . . I’ve been trying very, very hard to get rid of it,” she continued. “It’s haunting me more and more as I get older. Now the consequences are getting harder.”

Photo Credit: USA Today

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.