Chelsea Manning, the Army private previously known as Bradley Manning, announced her wish to live as a female last week only after learning that the all-men military prison where she'll serve her sentence likely wouldn't provide her the hormone therapy she wants, according to her lawyer.
"It was Chelsea's intent to do this all along," David Coombs told the Associated Press last night, explaining why his client made her announcement so soon after she was sentenced. "It was only after Fort Leavenworth had said that they would not provide any sort of medical treatment that we decided not to wait."
The Army's statement came one day before Manning was sentenced, when the Courthouse News Service published a story quoting a prison spokeswoman saying that Fort Leavenworth does not "provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder."
In his interview with the AP, Coombs also detailed the specifics of Manning's plan: She's willing to pay for estrogen treatments that would promote female characteristics including breast development, she does not want sex-reassignment surgery at this point, and she expects to be kept with men in prison. Coombs has made it clear that he'll pursue any and all legal options on behalf of his client if the prison prevents Manning from receiving the hormone therapy.
Coombs also addressed the potential for confusion with Manning's name change, a topic that's been widely discussed by news organizations looking to balance the need for clarity with a desire to respect Manning's wishes. He said that Manning understands that she won't be able to make a clean break from her past identity:
Coombs said Manning knows there is the potential for confusion with the name change, and said Manning expects to be referred to as Bradley when it has to do with events prior to sentencing, the appeal of the court-martial and the request for a presidential pardon. Prison mail must be addressed to Bradley Manning.
"There's a realization that most people know her as Bradley," Coombs told the AP. "Chelsea is a realist and understands."