Bradley Manning Says He Is A 'Female Named Chelsea'

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Convicted Army private Bradley Manning revealed Thursday that he wants to live out the remainder of his life as a woman.

"I am Chelsea Manning. I am female," Manning, 25, wrote in a statement read on NBC's TODAY show. "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."

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday after being found guilty of 20 charges, including espionage and theft, for leaking more than 700,000 documents to the WikiLeaks – one of the largest leaks of classified information in American history.

“I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun, except in official mail to the confinement facility,” said the statement, read on TODAY by his attorney David Coombes. “I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.”

The statement was signed “Chelsea E. Manning.”

During his trial, Manning’s defense attorneys suggested that his gender identity issues and living as a gay soldier led to his decision to leak the classified information. A 2010 email presented in court with the subject “My Problem” contained a photo of Manning wearing a blonde wig and lipstick.

"The stress that he was under was mostly to give context to what was going on at the time," Coombes told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY. "It was never an excuse because that's not what drove his actions. What drove his actions was a strong moral compass."

Fort Leavenworth, the facility where Manning will serve his sentence, does not provide hormone therpy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity issues. It does, however, provide psychiatric care.

Coombes said he “hopes” that when it comes to providing hormone therapy the facility "would do the right thing."

"If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so," he said.

Manning is eligible for parole in seven years.

Sources: TODAY, USA Today