Bradley Manning, the Army private who was just sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified documents, revealed Thursday he intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman. "I am Chelsea Manning. I am female", Bradley Manning wrote in a statement read on NBC's "Today" show Thursday by his attorney, according to USA Today on Aug. 22. Due to his conviction, it remains unclear whether he will ultimately undergo gender reassignment surgery, but he hopes to begin hormone therapy in prison.
"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's statement to Today went on to say.
Bradley Manning, 25, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on yesterday after being found guilty of 20 charges. The army private leaked over 700,000 documents to the WikiLeaks website, while posted in Iraq during 2010.
Manning faced a maximum of 90 years in prison following his conviction last month on charges including espionage, theft and fraud.
He was convicted of one of the largest leaks of classified material in the country's history, and found himself at the center of a growing debate over government secrecy.
Manning supporters consider him a whistle-blower whose leaks served the "public interest". The government referred to Manning as a traitor who hurt the United States.
Manning leaked the secret documents, which included battlefield reports and State Department cables, to the WikiLeaks website, which in turn posted them on the Internet.
The U.S. government contend his actions jeopardized U.S. interests and put informants and sources in danger. Manning's defense attorneys painted him as a an "idealist" who opposed the war in Iraq.
During his trial, Manning's defense team suggested his struggles with gender identity were a factor in his decision to leak the information.
His attorneys presented an email Manning sent to a former supervisor in April 2010 in which he claimed he was transgender, and joined the Army to, "get rid of it".
The email, which had as the subject line "My Problem", also included a photo of Manning in which he's wearing a blonde wig and lipstick.
During Manning’s nine-month detainment at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., he sent two letters to his lawyer using the name "Breanna", said Master Sgt. Craig Blenis as he testified at his trial.
Manning will likely serve out his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, the only military prison for service members sentenced to more than 10 years.
That facility does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity issues, only providing psychiatric care.
Manning's lawyer David Coombs said Thursday he hope's the prison will do the right thing and provide his client with hormone therapy.
Coombs is hopeful Manning will get a presidential pardon for his actions. However, if he does not, the attorney still expects the former soldier to only serve about seven years before being paroled.
In the U.S. prison system generally, transgender prisoners who have not had genital surgery are typically assigned to live with their birth-sex peers, but military policy on the matter remains unclear.
"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)", Manning continued in the statement posted on the show's web site.
"I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back", he finished. Manning signed the letter "Chelsea E. Manning".