He plans to live as a woman named Chelsea, he said in a statement provided to NBC’s Today show.
Manning’s struggle with gender identity disorder — his sense that he was a man trapped in a woman’s body — was a key part of his defence. Lawyers had presented evidence of his struggle with gender identity, including a photo of the soldier in a blond wig and lipstick that he sent to a therapist.
Manning had faced up to 90 years in jail. Prosecutors had wanted at least a 60-year sentence, saying it would dissuade other soldiers from following in his footsteps. The defence suggested no more than 25 so Manning could rebuild his life.
With good behaviour and credit for the more than three years he has been held, Manning could be out in about six-and-a-half years, according to his lawyer David Coombs. Manning’s rank was reduced, he was dishonourably discharged, and he forfeited his pay.
In his statement, Manning asked supporters to refer to him by his new name. The statement was signed “Chelsea E Manning.’
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”
Mr Coombs said he is hoping military prison officials will accommodate Manning’s request for hormone therapy. If not, “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so”.
The Army said it doesn’t provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery.
“All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioural science non-commissioned officers,” Army spokesman George Wright said
Meanwhile, the fight to free Manning has taken a new turn, with Mr Coombs and supporters saying they will ask the army for leniency — and the White House for a pardon, which is unlikely.
The White House said the request would be considered “like any other application.”