FORT MEADE, Md. — Three years after rocking the Pentagon by leaking a mountain of secrets, Bradley Manning created a whole new set of potential complications for the military Thursday by asking to be known as a woman named Chelsea and to undergo hormone treatment.
Manning's gender-identity struggle was brought up by the defense at his court-martial, and a photo of the soldier in a blond wig and lipstick was submitted as evidence.
But the latest twist, announced the morning after Manning was sentenced to 35 years behind bars for turning more than 700,000 classified military and diplomatic documents over to the secrets-spilling website WikiLeaks, surprised many and confronted the Pentagon with questions about where and how he is to be imprisoned.
The former Army intelligence analyst disclosed the decision in a statement provided to NBC's Today show.
"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. 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," the statement read.
The soldier's attorney, David Coombs, told Today he hopes officials at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., accommodate the 25-year-old Manning's request for hormone treatment, which typically involves high doses of estrogen to promote breast development and other female characteristics.
However, George Wright, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the Army does not provide such treatment or sex-reassignment surgery.