The Bradley Manning news cycle continues today, as the dishonorably-discharged private announced that she identifies as female and plans to adopt the name Chelsea Manning. Yesterday, a judge ruled against Manning on 20 charges, sentencing her to 35 years in prison.
Manning read a statement on the Today show, stating,“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” the statement said. “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. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”
This is not all that sudden, at least for Manning—two psychiatrists reported treating her for gender dysphoria while she was deployed in the combat zone, while DADT was still in effect. Attorneys included the inevitable pressure this caused as defense for Manning throughout her trial, to no particular avail.
The immediate concern now is how Manning will be treated in the Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The prison's official policy for transgender inmates is only to provide psychiatric care, not hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery. Manning has not personally shown interest in surgery, but her defense lawyer David E. Coombs said that if the prison does not alter its policy on hormone therapy, “then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so.” He also commented on Manning not necessarily wanting to be housed in a women's prison, saying “No, I think the ultimate goal is to be comfortable in her skin and to be the person that she’s never had an opportunity to be.”
Whatever Manning's preferences, this announcement will undoubtedly spark public discourse on military and prison treatment of transgender men and women, an issue recently explored on Orange is the New Black through a character portrayed by Laverne Cox.