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Judge Mulls Chelsea Manning Name Change

A Kansas judge will on Wednesday consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning’s petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she serves a 35-year sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The former intelligence analyst, who is serving her sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, said in August that she wants to be known as Chelsea Elizabeth Manning instead of Bradley Edward Manning, and to be treated as a woman.

U.S. Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning ,wearing a wig and lipstick, has filed a request to change her name from Bradley Edward. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified government information (AP Photo/U.S. Army, File)

The Army treats Manning as a man and refers to her by her male birth name. Approval of Manning’s legal name change request would clear the way for official changes to her military records, but it would not compel the military to treat her as a woman. For example, she wouldn’t be transferred from Leavenworth, which doesn’t have a women’s unit, to a military prison that does.

“This potential court action is only a name change, and will have no other effect on his current status other than the name in his records,” said George Wright, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.

Manning, who grew up in Oklahoma, filed the court petition as the first step toward getting her Army records changed. She has been diagnosed by at least two Army behavioral health specialists with gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder.

She was sentenced in August for six Espionage Act violations and 14 other offenses for leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents, plus battlefield video, while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010. An Army general upheld the convictions last week, clearing the way for appeals with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

Steve Crossland, administrator for the district court, said there was no opposition filed in the public court record contesting Manning’s name-change request. Crossland said Leavenworth County District Judge David King could rule on the matter Wednesday or rule at a later date.

“These are hearings that are pretty straightforward,” Crossland said. Manning is not expected to attend the hearing.

She has filed a grievance with the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks commander at Fort Leavenworth over the lack of a response to her request for comprehensive treatment for her gender identity disorder, including specialized gender counseling and hormone replacement therapy.

The military has said it doesn’t provide hormone replacement therapy. Gender dysphoria generally disqualifies one for military service, but Manning can’t be discharged while serving her sentence.

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