Bradley Manning: "I am Chelsea Manning. I am female."


In a statement read on the Today Show Thursday morning, Bradley Manning announced that he wants hormone therapy and should now be called "Chelsea." The announcement comes one day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for the biggest release of classified military information in U.S. history.

"I am Chelsea Manning. I am female," Manning wrote in the statement. "Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition."

On Wednesday a judge sentenced 25-year-old Manning to 35 years at the Army's Fort Leavenworth prison for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents to Wikileaks while he was working as an intelligence officer in Iraq.

Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, spoke exclusively to Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Thursday about why his client made this announcement now.

"Chelsea didn't want this to be something that overshadowed the case. Wanted to wait until the case was done to move forward to the next stage of her life," said Coombs.

Pictures Manning wearing makeup and a wig had surfaced online, and defense testimony during his trial revealed struggles with a gender identity disorder. Coombs told Guthrie he will push Fort Leavenworth to provide Manning hormone therapy.

"I don't know about the sex reassignment surgery. Chelsea hasn't indicated that that would be her desire...but as far as the hormone therapy...yes...I'm hoping Fort Leavenworth would do the right thing and provide that. If Fort Leavenworth does not, I am going to make sure that I do everything in my power to make sure that they are forced to do so," said Coombs.

Guthrie also asked if Manning's ultimate goal is to serve time in a female population.

"No, I think the ultimate goal is for her to be comfortable in her skin and to be the person she's never had an opportunity to be," said Coombs.

The Army released a statement after Manning's public request to be referred to as a female. The Army says all inmates are treated equally as soldiers, regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

All solider prisoners have access to mental health professionals, but the Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery for gender identity disorders. The Army does implement risk assessment protocols and safety procedures in compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Fort Leavenworth is known for its dismal conditions, hard labor demands put on prisoners and being home to the military's most dangerous and violent criminals.

With parole, Manning could be released in seven years.