WIKILEAKS whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been granted permission to legally change her name by an American judge.
At a hearing on Wednesday morning (April 23), District Judge David King, of Leavenworth County, Kansas, granted a petition for the US soldier to officially change her name from Bradley Edward Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.
Last year, the former Tasker Milward School pupil was sentenced to 35 years in jail after being found guilty of 20 charges relating to the release of classified information to whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
Chelsea, who has twice been diagnosed with gender dysphoria by qualified military psychiatrists, said she hoped the name change would “raise awareness of the fact that we trans people exist everywhere in America today, and that we must jump through hurdles every day just for being who we are”.
She added: “It’s worth noting that in both mail and in-person, I’ve often been asked, ‘Why are you changing your name?’
“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.”
Lauren McNamara, a trans-rights advocate who Chelsea befriended prior to arrest, and who testified at Manning’s trial last summer, said she was “very happy that Chelsea has been able to take this important step”.
“Being recognized by the chosen name that reflects who you are is a matter of basic dignity for all transgender people, and this right must be respected,” she added.
Chelsea has also requested treatment for her diagnosed gender dysphoria while at the Ft. Leavenworth disciplinary barracks.
She was informed in August of 2013 that the military had created a plan for her treatment, but says she is yet to see the plan, or to be notified of whether it meets with recognized standards of care for trans health.
Currently, the U.S. military does not allow transgender individuals to serve openly. However, Chelsea will not be discharged from the military until after she has finished serving her sentence.