By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com August 22 2013 12:14 PM ET
The former Army intelligence analyst just sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified government documents to the website WikiLeaks said through a statement today that she is, in fact, a transgender woman.
Lt. Col. David Coombs, the attorney who defended Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley) in her recent court martial trial, delivered the statement this morning on the Today show.
"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning," the former private wrote. "I am female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible."
Manning, 25, who had been reported alternately as gay and transgender, also confirmed her preferred pronoun usage, which The Advocate began using during Manning's trial last week when an Army psychiatrist revealed Manning's ongoing struggle with her gender identity.
"I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronouns."
Coombs also told Today that he'll fight for Manning to receive medically necessary hormone therapy and other clinical support for her transition while she serves her sentence.
And Coombs might have quite a battle on his hands, as U.S. Army officials have stated that the Army does not offer treatment for gender dysphoria. The U.S. Armed Forces considers gender dysphoria or any gender-affirming clinical or surgical treatment as disqualifying a soldier for service, or even, in some cases, a forfeiture of benefits offered to veterans.
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement following Manning's coming out that stressed the importance of medically necessary treatment for Manning while she's incarcerated.
"In response to Chelsea Manning's disclosure that she is female, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and will be seeking hormone therapy as a part of her transition during her incarceration, public statements by military officials that the Army does not provide hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria raise serious constitutional concerns," said Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU's LGBT Project. "Gender dysphoria is a serious medical condition in which a person's gender identity does not correspond to his or her assigned sex at birth, and hormone therapy is part of the accepted standards of care for this condition. Without the necessary treatment, gender dysphoria can cause severe psychological distress, including anxiety and suicide. When the government holds individuals in its custody, it must provide them with medically necessary care. The official policy of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and most state agencies is to provide medically necessary care for the treatment of gender dysphoria, and courts have consistently found that denying such care to prisoners based on blanket exclusions violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution."
Watch the Today clip below.
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