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Manning says gender ID dispute could go to court

Oct. 31, 2013 - 06:21PM   |  
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HAGERSTOWN, MD. — Imprisoned secret documents leaker Chelsea Manning says she’ll go to court, if necessary, to get treatment for gender identity disorder, also called gender dysphoria.

The U.S. Army soldier 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. 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 at least to 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 the prison, 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 prison 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 wrote 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.

Associated Press writer Michelle Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.

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