LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — An Army private convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks won an initial victory Wednesday to living as a woman when a Kansas judge granted a petition to change her name to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.
The decision clears the way for official changes to Manning's military records, but does not compel the military to treat the soldier previously known as Bradley Edward Manning as a woman.
That includes not being moved from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, where Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence, to a prison with a woman's unit, or receiving the counseling and hormone treatment she seeks.
Manning wasn't present at the hearing before Leavenworth County District Judge David King, which lasted just about a minute, but issued a statement after the ruling calling it "an exciting day."
"Hopefully today's name change, while so meaningful to me personally, can also raise awareness of the fact that we (transgender) people exist everywhere in America today, and that we must jump through hurdles every day just for being who we are," Manning said.
Army spokesman George Wright said the only impact of the district court ruling was changing Manning's name on military records, but not the soldier's confinement status.
"Likewise, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks is a male-only facility and prisoners there are referred to by the title 'inmate'," Wright said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Manning, who grew up in Oklahoma, has been diagnosed by at least two Army behavioral health specialists with gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder. She filed the court petition as the first step toward getting her Army records changed.
The former intelligence analyst was sentenced in August for six Espionage Act violations and 14 other offenses for giving the anti-secrecy website more than 700,000 secret military and U.S. State Department documents, along with battlefield video, while working 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.