Manning lawyer gives more details on gender change

Manning announced wish for gender change after hearing of prison's refusal to provide treatment

Chelsea Manning exiting court on Aug. 20, left, and dressed as a woman in a 2010 photograph.
L. to R.: Mark Wilson/Getty Images; Reuters

Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who was previously known as Bradley Manning, wants estrogen treatments that would promote breast development and other female characteristics -- which she is willing to pay for -- while she's incarcerated at the all-male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., her lawyer, David Coombs, said Monday.

Coombs said Manning does not want sex-reassignment surgery at this point and expects to be kept with men in prison, where she's serving time for leaking mountains of classified material to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Coombs said Manning decided to announce that she wanted to live as a woman the day after sentencing in a bid to highlight her cause because the prison said publicly it would not provide hormone treatment.

He told The Associated Press that Manning hoped the military prison "will simply do the right thing" regarding the request for hormone treatment so the soldier would not have to sue in military or civilian court.

Coombs said that Manning knew for a long time she would make such a statement but that "she wanted, essentially, for the media surrounding the trial to dissipate." He said Manning did not want people to think the statement was insincere.

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

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

Prison refusal

It wasn't 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 Aug. 20, the day before Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the leaks.

"It was Chelsea's intent to do this all along," Coombs said of the announcement. "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 also said that he had seen comments online objecting to taxpayer-funded hormone therapy and that if the Army wouldn't pay for it, Manning would.

The therapy would help Manning, Coombs said. "It's just to be comfortable in her own skin."

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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