Manning wants to get married and have a family, attorney says

by Scott Stump /  / Updated 

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Eligible for parole in seven years after being sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in a military prison, Chelsea Manning dreams of one day returning to school and starting a family.

The soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, who provided an exclusive statement to TODAY Thursday indicating that she wants to live as a woman named Chelsea, has begun serving her sentence inside Fort Leavenworth’s disciplinary barracks. Manning was convicted on 20 counts ranging from espionage to theft for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents to the website WikiLeaks while serving in Iraq in 2010. Manning is already looking toward the future.

“She wants to get a degree,’’ Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, told TODAY Friday. “She wants to hopefully find somebody that she loves. Get married. Perhaps have a family.”

Manning has requested hormone therapy while at Fort Leavenworth, but the Army said in a statement that it does not provide that treatment or sex-reassignment surgery. Manning has not requested surgery.

Related story: For transgender people, a pronoun can be crucial

Within hours of Thursday’s announcement about Manning’s desire to live as a woman, the phrase "Chelsea Manning" was trending on Twitter worldwide. Reaction ranged from outrage to sympathy. 

Former Navy SEAL Chris Beck, now known as Kristin Beck, the author of “Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL’s Journey to Coming out Transgender,” spoke out. 

"For this person, whether male or female to use gender identity to act 'BADLY' is a slap in the face to me and everyone who does not fit the 'Binary Gender Norm,' Beck wrote on Facebook. "It is not an excuse for anything illegal or unjust."

Manning's announcement Thursday raised issues of how news organizations covering the story refer to a high-profile transgender individual. Manning, in the statement, asked the public to use the pronoun "she." 

The AP Stylebook indicates that news organizations who follow the style "use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth."

"People need to understand that this is for real,'' Dr. Nancy Snyderman told TODAY. "A person for gender dysphoria wants to live as the other gender. That requires psychiatric evaluation, years of hormone treatment, and sometimes surgery but not necessarily."

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