April 23, 2014 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Kansas court approves Chelsea Manning name change
Chelsea Manning, gay news, Washington Blade

A court approved the name change for Chelsea Manning on Wednesday. (Portrait by Alicia Neal)

The former U.S. Army private sentenced to 35 years in prison for releasing thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks won approval on Wednesday from a Kansas judge to legally change her name from Bradley Edward Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.

Leavenworth County District Court Judge David J. King issued an order approving the name change four months after Manning filed a petition with the court requesting the change while assigned to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

“The Court finds that the Petitioner, Bradley Edward Manning, is entitled to change name from Bradley Edward Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning,” King states in his two-page order.

“It is further ordered that, upon proper application, an amended or substitute birth certificate be issued to reflect the Petitioner’s new name, Chelsea Elizabeth Manning,” King wrote in the order.

“I’ve been working for months for this change, and waiting for years,” Manning said in a statement posted April 23 on the website ChelseaManning.org.

“I’ve often been asked, ‘Why are you changing your name?’ Manning wrote. “The answer couldn’t be simpler: because it’s a far better, richer, and more honest reflection of who I am and always have been: a woman named Chelsea.”

Manning added that her next hurdle is to persuade the military to allow her to undergo hormone treatment at the Fort Leavenworth detention facility to enable her to better transition from male to female. She said military officials informed her eight months ago that they were developing a treatment plan for her transition but have yet to say what the plan will entail and when it will begin.

Although military officials have said they are considering Manning’s requests for hormone treatment they have so far continued to classify her as a male and have placed her in an all-male section of the Fort Leavenworth detention facility.

While stationed in Iraq in 2010 as an Army intelligence analyst, military investigators say Manning illegally turned over to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks more than 700,000 classified military and State Department documents. His action represented the largest breach of classified information in the nation’s history, according to military prosecutors.

The National Center for Transgender Equality released a statement Wednesday saying name changes are an important and typically routine process for many transgender people.

“NCTE is pleased that Ms. Manning was able to do this without any undue obstacles, like hundreds of thousands of other trans people,” said NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin.

“We hope authorities will end the delay in deciding whether to provide her with basic health care,” Tobin said.

Manning’s attorney has said she could be eligible for parole in seven years.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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