An artist's rendering of Chelsea Manning as she sees herself. 
Chelsea Manning Announces Legal Name Change in Optimistic Letter

By Parker Marie Molloy

Originally published on Advocate.com April 23 2014 4:48 PM ET

Earlier today, Chelsea Manning issued a statement announcing that her name change, requested last month, has been approved by a Kansas court.

"Today is an exciting day," Manning's statement reads as published on the blog for her support network. "A judge in the state of Kansas has officially ordered my name to be changed from 'Bradley Edward Manning' to 'Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.' I've been working for months for this change, and waiting for years."

Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence on charges stemming from her leak of classified documents to the public and website WikiLeaks, announced in August of last year that she is transgender. This came after years of speculation over Manning's gender identity, considered to be somewhat of an open secret among trans activists since as early as 2011.

"It's worth noting that in both mail and in-person, I've often been asked, 'Why are you changing your name?'"Manning continues. "The answer couldn't be simpler: because it's a far better, richer, and more honest reflection of who I am and have always been — a woman named Chelsea."

Manning goes on to detail many of the often tedious, basic obstacles trans individuals often face, discussing the need for trans people to be able to access healthcare, and explains the benefit of having public accommodations protections. She writes, "It's the most banal things... that in our current society keep us from having the means to live better, more productive, and safer lives."

Her statement reads with optimism for a better world, and even hope for her own future.

"Now, I am waiting on the military to assist me in accessing healthcare," Manning writes, referring to her request to begin hormone replacement therapy. "In August, I requested that the military provide me with a treatment plan consistent with the recognized professional standards of care for trans health. They quickly evaluated me and informed me that they came up with a proposed treatment plan. However, I have not yet seen their treatment plan, and in over eight months, I have not received any response as to whether the plan will be approved or disapproved, or whether it follows the guidelines of qualified health professionals."

Manning notes in her letter's closing that she prefers "Trans*" with an asterisk, which many use as an umbrella term to describe individuals who fall both inside and out of the "male/female" gender binary.

Contributor: 
Parker Marie Molloy