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Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced to 35 years in federal prison for leaking classified documents, wants to live the rest of his life as woman.
“I am Chelsea Manning,” the former intelligence analyst said in a statement read on NBC’s “Today” show. Manning’s lawyer said he plans to fight for the prison to provide hormone therapy.
A friend and defense witness during his court-martial, Lauren McNamara, said Manning’s actions were “absolutely related to her state of mind at the time and the decisions she made.”
“It came out in the sentencing phase of the trial when various people she had talked to in the military, psychologists and counselors, that there had been many previous instances that it had been obvious that she was in need of imminent treatments and yet this was often pushed to the side because the unit was under powered and they could not afford to lose any analysts.”
McNamara communicated with Manning online for six months in 2009 under the name Zinnia Jones, before McNamara identified herself as a transgender and changed her name.
McNamara, who started transitioning from a man to woman last year, said during their conversations, Manning identified himself as a gay man, only later revealing that he was considering a transition as early as 2010.
“We mostly talked about her difficulties growing up; her struggles with her family; her struggles in school and her difficulties prior to joining the military.”
“She did speak extensively about her role in the military as an intelligence analyst,” she added, pointing also to struggles relating to other soldiers, which was noted in Manning’s trial.
McNamara said, “Overall, she still expressed a belief in the military as a force for good made of diverse people.”
Asked if other soldiers were harassing Manning, McNamara said “[Manning] didn’t seem to fit well with the military’s culture," adding that many in the military saw Manning as “vulnerable.”
“She might have been bullied for being effeminate and still at the time being an openly gay man, let alone being openly trans, would have meant being separate from the Army.”
The situation might have been avoided, McNamara insisted, if Manning had received the care from the military.