The U.S. Army will not pay for convicted spy Bradley Manning to undergo a gender change, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.
However, officials would not say whether Manning would be allowed to proceed with a sex change if he pays for it.
Manning was sentenced this week to 35 years in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on charges of espionage and theft for his role in leaking classified documents to Wikileaks.
In a letter read on the “Today” show, Manning said he identifies as a female and that he is already going through a hormone therapy process. He also asked that from now on he be referred to as “Chelsea Manning.”
The Army vowed to treat Manning fairly but insists it won't pay for his sex change.
“The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder,” Army spokesman George Wright said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.
“Inmates at the United States Disciplinary Barracks and Joint Regional Correctional Facility are treated equally regardless of race, rank, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” he said. “All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals ... with experience in addressing the needs of military personnel in pre- and post-trial confinement.”
The Army, however, left unanswered the question of whether Manning would be allowed to proceed with a sex change if he paid for the process himself.
David Coombs, Manning’s lawyer, said he will fight for his client to receive the treatments at Fort Leavenworth. He promised that Manning would not request a transfer to a women's prison once he's completed the process.
“If Fort Leavenworth does not [provide the treatment], then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that they are forced to do so,” Coombs said on the “Today” show. “The ultimate goal is to be comfortable in her skin, and to be the person that she’s never had an opportunity to be.”