A judge in Kansas on Wednesday approved a name change for the Army private who made worldwide news by releasing hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.
"Today is an exciting day," Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, said in a statement. "I've been working for months for this change, and waiting for years."
Manning, convicted on 20 counts including six Espionage Act violations, is serving a 35-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She was known as a man until Aug. 22, 2013, when she issued a press release announcing that she was changing her name and wished to be referred to as a woman.
"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me," she said at the time. "I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. 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."
The Army did not oppose the name change. Army spokesman George Wright said Wednesday's court ruling, considered perfunctory, means the military will change Manning's name on military records. He will remain in a male-only facility, Wright said.
Manning has filed a grievance with the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks commander at Fort Leavenworth over the lack of a response to her request for comprehensive treatment for her gender identity disorder, including specialized gender counseling and hormone replacement therapy.
Manning said in her statement Wednesday that the military claims it has developed a treatment plan for her.
"Now I am waiting on the military to assist me in accessing health care," the statement said. "I have not yet seen their treatment plan, and in over eight months I have not received any response as to whether the plan will be approved or disapproved, or whether it follows the guidelines of qualified health professionals.
The military has said it doesn't provide hormone replacement therapy. Gender dysphoria generally disqualifies one for military service, but Manning can't be discharged while serving the prison sentence.
"Hopefully today's name change, while so meaningful to me personally, can also raise awareness of the fact that we trans people exist everywhere in America today," Manning's statement said. "If I'm successful in obtaining access to trans health care, not only will it be something I have wanted for a long time myself, but it will open the door for many people, both inside and outside the military, to request the right to live more open, fulfilled lives."