Bradley Manning wants to live the rest of his life as a transgender woman named Chelsea, the U.S. soldier convicted in the biggest breach of classified data in the nation's history revealed Thursday.
"I am Chelsea Manning," the army private said in a statement to NBC's "Today" show Thursday morning.
"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."
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Manning further requested that the press begin to refer to him using all feminine pronouns and the name "Chelsea."
Manning's attorneys suggested during the trial that the soldier's struggles with gender identity, and as a homosexual in the military, played a part in her decision to leak the stolen documents to WikiLeaks.
Twitter users had a range of reactions Thursday to the news of Manning's transformation to Chelsea.
The 25-year-old soldier was found guilty in military court last month of leaking secret U.S. documents to WikiLeaks. Manning was convicted on 20 charges, including Espionage Act violations, but was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy.
Manning was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison
, and will be eligible for parole after serving one-third of the allotted sentence, which will be reduced for time served.
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