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27 Aug, 2013 09:40

Manning ready to pay for hormone therapy - attorney

Manning ready to pay for hormone therapy - attorney

Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower formerly known as Bradley Manning who announced she wanted to live as a woman after being sentenced to 35 years in jail, is ready to pay for her hormone therapy, her lawyer said.

David Coombs, Manning’s lawyer, announced his defendant would want to have hormone treatment as soon as possible. In an interview with AP, Coombs said he perceived from online comments about the situation that people were mostly objecting to Manning being given this kind of therapy on the taxpayers’ dime.

The attorney said he and Manning had some hope that the Army or the military prison would finance hormone treatment, since it had been an Army psychiatrist who diagnosed Manning with gender-identity disorder.

"It's just to be comfortable in her own skin," Coombs said, referring to Manning as female, according to the whistleblower’s wish.

The day after Bradley Manning was sentenced for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents, he announced he wanted to live as a woman, and to live under the name of Chelsea Elizabeth.

The attorney explained Manning did not want sex-reassignment surgery, but thought the hormone therapy - high doses of estrogen to promote female characteristics, such as breast development – could help to cope with gender disphoria.

The chances the Army will pay for the treatment are meager, according to officials’ earlier comments. "The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder," Kimberly Lewis, the spokeswoman for Fort Leavenworth prison where Manning is to serve his sentence, told Courthouse News Service on August 20.

Coombs does not rule out the possibility of Manning having to sue in military or civilian court for his right to get hormone treatment. The attorney said he hoped the military prison "will simply do the right thing."

The Fort Leavenworth prison is all-male and its officials are at this point unlikely to refer to Manning by the name and pronoun she wishes to be addressed by.

Coombs, however, said he and his client would still look into the legal options for the name change and would try to make the military recognize it.  

The lawyer said Manning realizes that the process of accepting her new gender and name will take some time.

"There's a realization that most people know her as Bradley," Coombs said. "Chelsea is a realist and understands."

The whistleblower’s supporters are, however, already taking action to make it happen sooner.   

In response to PVT Manning's announcement, the Bradley Manning Support Network is changing its name to the Private Manning Support Network, and will work on changing other frequently used parts of its website and materials to incorporate the name Chelsea and the female pronoun,” David Coombs’s blog reads.