Bradley is now named Chelsea.
"As I transition to the next stage of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am now female," she wrote in a public statement, explaining her desire to transition from male to female.
Born Bradley Edward Manning, she gained national attention after releasing hundred of thousand of documents to the online site WikiLeaks. She was convicted in July 2013 and faces a sentence of up to 35 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act.
But it is likely to be a long and arduous journey for Manning. The transition from one gender to another begins with intensive therapy and spending at least one year living, working and dressing as the target gender. Finally, there is the gender reassignment surgery and Manning could potentially undertake other surgeries including breast augmentation or facial feminization.
While she stated she wants "to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible," there is not much precedent for it in the prison system, let alone the military complex.
Current military guidelines define gender identity disorder as a mental health issue. In addition, the Army stated it will not pay for Manning's sex change surgery.
No U.S. inmate has ever received sex reassignment surgery while in prison, but legal steps have been taken that move transgender inmates closer toward that goal. And several inmates have started receiving hormone therapy, but most need to sue for the legal right.
Assuming Manning is allowed access to the care she needs and that she is responsible for her own treatment costs, there's a number of expenses she can expect.
- Hormone costs about $200 per month and is likely to be an expense she will deal with for the rest of her life.
- Even with the estrogen treatment, it is possible she might need to have laser hair removal, which can cost up to $500 per treatment.
- Intensive counseling is likely to cost $80-$120 per session, which could be as much as $4,160-$6,240 annually.
- The sex reassignment surgery itself costs $15,000-$50,000.
- She'll probably look into breast augmentation as well, which ranges from $4,000-$10,000.
- The surgeries don't always stop there. Many transgender women look into facial feminization surgery as well as voice feminization surgery, each of which can run upwards of $10,000.
- Plus, there are the incidentals of transitioning, such as having to purchase an entirely new wardrobe and other cosmetic items.
Chelsea Manning has chosen a difficult path. However, if this change is what she truly desires, realizing her "real me" is a cost that can't be calculated in dollars.