Wed, Aug 28, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Manning’s lawyer elaborates on gender swap

AP, PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island

US Army Private Chelsea Manning, who was previously known as Bradley Manning, decided to announce that she wanted to live as a woman the day after sentencing because a military prison said publicly it would not provide hormone treatment, her attorney said.

David Coombs said on Monday that Manning had known for a long time she would make such a statement, but “she wanted, essentially, for the media surrounding the trial to dissipate.”

Manning did not want people to think the statement was insincere.

“People might think it was an effort to get further attention,” Coombs said.

Coombs said he and Manning knew the army might not provide hormone treatment, but they were hoping the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, would allow it since Manning had been diagnosed with gender-identity disorder by an army psychiatrist who testified at her trial.

It was not until they read a Courthouse News Service story that Manning decided to make the announcement.

The story quoted prison spokeswoman Kimberly Lewis saying the prison would not provide hormone therapy. It was published on Tuesday last week, the day before Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking mountains of classified material the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks.

“It was Chelsea’s intent to do this all along,” Coombs said. “It was only after Fort Leavenworth had said that they would not provide any sort of medical treatment that we decided not to wait.”

Coombs said he hoped the military prison “will simply do the right thing” so Manning will not have to sue in military or civilian court.

Coombs said at this point Manning does not want sex-reassignment surgery and expects to be kept with men in prison. The Fort Leavenworth prison is all-male.

Coombs said he had seen people objecting online to taxpayer-funded hormone therapy and said Manning will pay for it.

Hormone therapy can help Manning, Coombs said.

“It’s just to be comfortable in her own skin,” Coombs said.

He described it as similar to ensuring someone with high blood pressure gets medication.

Coombs also said the Bradley Manning Support Network is changing its name to the Private Manning Support Network.

The group has raised more than US$1 million and is paying Manning’s legal expenses.

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