Bradley Manning Wants to Live as a Female Prisoner

Convicted felon Bradley Manning has announced that she'd like to spend her confinement as Chelsea Manning.


Convicted felon Bradley Manning has announced that she’d like to spend her confinement as Chelsea Manning.

Today (“Bradley Manning: I want to live as a woman“):

Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced to military prison for leaking classified documents, revealed he intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman.

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the Army private wrote in a statement read on TODAY Thursday. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”

Manning, 25, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday after having been found guilty of 20 charges ranging from espionage to theft for leaking more than 700,000 documents to the WikiLeaks website while working in Iraq in 2010.

“I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility),” he continued in the statement. “I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.”

Manning signed the letter “Chelsea E. Manning.”

If the movies are any indication, it’s way more fun in women’s prisons than their masculine counterparts, so this is a sound strategy.

As to Manning’s requests:

  • I haven’t the foggiest how one goes about gender reassignment while in military confinement. Surely, the taxpayer doesn’t have to foot the bill?
  • I’m not sure what the protocol is in military confinement. In civilian prisons, Manning would be referred to by a prisoner number rather than a first name.

Let’s dispense with prison rape jokes in the comments section. They’re not funny.

UPDATE: For a more researched, substantive treatment of this issue, see my follow-up “Chelsea Manning and the Law.”

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Military Affairs, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. CSK says:

    Federal judges have ordered the state to pay for sex change surgery for prisoners in Massachusetts and Virginia on the grounds that denying the inmate the operation would be a violation of the Eighth Amendment. So by that precedent, wouldn’t the taxpayer subsidize similar surgery for those confined in military and federal correctional institutions?

  2. Rob Miles says:

    Honestly, this almost sounds like something from The Onion. Or, to bring conspiracy into it, something drummed up by the military to make people less likely to support Manning.

    However, if it is true it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I wonder what the military policy would be for a soldier in good standing who wanted a sex change operation, for that matter.

  3. DC Loser says:

    Sophia from Orange is the New Black.

  4. Wait... what says:

    Hey… Bummer. I have to go to jail for 35 years…

    Gee, now how can I find a way to get in the gal’s prison?

    Hmmmm…. BRILLIANT !

  5. James Pearce says:

    Seems like this would have happened, criminal conviction or no. Still, a sex change in prison?

  6. Tyrell says:

    I kind of thought this guy was off his rocker. Taxpayer funded sex change surgery? Now that is outrageous.

  7. legion says:

    Well, what does he have to lose at this point? He’s got no job to be fired from. The only friends he’s got left certainly won’t care, and all his enemies already hate him about as much as they can. If he feels this strongly about it, I don’t see any better time to deal with it all.

  8. PD Shaw says:

    @CSK: I think the Eighth Amendment right to treatment arises where the gender identity disorder is severe enough that the patient is at risk for suicide or damaging his/her gentiles, and perhaps the absence of effective alternative treatments. Certainly in that case the prison must pay for the treatment.

    But the intensity level of GID varies, and some deny their desire to effectuate their own sense of identity is a medical disorder at all. I assume this would be a case-by-case issue, depending on medical testimony.

  9. Rob Miles says:

    As a gentile (I think) I hate when people try to mutilate me. By all means give them the surgery if it’ll prevent that!

  10. Anderson says:

    Got more issues than a newsstand.

  11. Franklin says:

    The timing is curious.

  12. legion says:

    @Franklin: Well, if he’d brought it up before or during the trial, it would have just been a distraction – nobody would have seen it as anything other than grandstanding or playing for sympathy. Now that the trial’s over, what else would he wait for?

  13. roger says:

    Could he/she later claim that he was tried and sentenced as Bradley Manning but now that he/she is Chelsea, he/she should be released?

    Or, if they refuse to let him/her have the treatment, he/she could claim cruel and unusual punishment?

  14. al-Ameda says:

    Again, I feel sorry for anyone who aspires to write fiction – you just can’t compete with reality.

  15. CSK says:

    @PD Shaw:

    In the Virginia case, the inmate’s lawyers did indeed argue that he was at extreme risk of castrating himself.

  16. Ron Beasley says:

    I still have to wonder how this really troubled person got a security clearance or why he continued to have access to classified information after his superiors realized how messed up he was. Manning should go to jail but he’s not the only one who should be disciplined.

  17. Tillman says:

    The only thing that troubles me about transsexuality, gender reassignment and all that, is if they choose their new name.

    I don’t know, maybe it stems from animus against people picking their own nicknames. Given names would be an order of magnitude above that.

  18. grumpy realist says:

    Aren’t you supposed to lay the grounds for an insanity defense BEFORE the trial?!! (And yes, I know the emotional pain that forces people towards trans-gender surgery, but this….this is just bizarre.)

  19. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Oh, and I’m not so much commenting on Manning’s request for trans-gender surgery as on the new name he/she picked. “Chelsea”. Ugh.

  20. Jim M says:

    This is pathetic. I am at a loss for words for this…

  21. Andre Kenji says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I still have to wonder how this really troubled person got a security clearance or why he continued to have access to classified information after his superiors realized how messed up he was.

    The problem is the Elephant in the Room: gathering data is easy. Dealing with it is another story.

  22. William Wilgus says:

    If the Constitution guaranteed happiness, I and many others would be demanding that our Financial Dysphoria be cured. Manning can have all the gender change procedures he wishes—after he’s released and with his dime.

  23. bill says:

    hopefully he can’t get “fixed” while in military prison, this ain’t Massachusetts!
    and really, a human born with a penis is a “male”