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Manning says gender ID dispute could go to court

Friday - 11/1/2013, 9:08am  ET

FILE - In this July 30, 2013, file photo, Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, then-Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., after receiving a verdict in his court martial. Manning, who was convicted of sending more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents to the secrets-sharing website WikiLeaks, said in a letter posted by the Private Manning Support Network that she will go to court, if necessary, to be allowed to live as a woman and receive hormone replacement therapy. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, a men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

DAVID DISHNEAU
Associated Press

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) -- Imprisoned documents leaker Chelsea Manning says she'll go to court, if necessary, to get treatment for gender identity disorder, also called gender dysphoria.

The Army private formerly known as Bradley Manning wrote in a letter to the Private Manning Support Network that her court-martial defense attorney, David Coombs, is helping her seek treatment for the disorder at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, a men's military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The support group posted the Oct. 28 letter on its website Wednesday.

Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for sending more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

Manning, 25, wrote that she wants to at least be allowed to live as a woman and receive hormone replacement therapy. She said Coombs will represent her in those efforts "by assisting me in matters related to exhausting my administrative remedies and, if denied outright, in filing a writ before a court with jurisdiction."

Coombs said Thursday he had nothing to add to Manning's comments. After Manning announced her request in August, Coombs said he hoped the military prison would "do the right thing" so Manning wouldn't have to go to court.

The military has said it does not provide treatment for gender dysphoria. Pentagon policy dictates that transgender soldiers are not allowed to serve, but Manning can't be discharged until she's released from prison and exhausts appeals of her criminal convictions. The Army Medical Command has said prisoners cannot receive hormone treatment at Fort Leavenworth, though Manning is apparently the first to request it. Prison officials have said Manning won't be allowed to dress as a woman.

Manning was diagnosed with gender dysphoria by two Army behavioral health specialists before her trial, but the Army has said prisoners must be re-evaluated.

Fort Leavenworth spokeswoman Kimberly Lewis said the prison cannot release inmate medical information due to privacy laws.

Manning also wrote that Coombs will help her file a petition for a formal name change from Bradley to Chelsea. Prison officials have said name changes are allowed.

The letter was one of four from Manning that the support network published. In another, she apologized for an earlier public statement in which she rejected the "pacifist" label after receiving the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award. Manning wrote in her apology that her decision to leak classified information reflected her "dedication to transparency" and a concern for human life and equality.

The Associated Press respects Manning's wish to identify as female.

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Associated Press writer Michelle R. Smith in Providence, R.I., contributed to this report.


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