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Whistleblower soldier Bradley Manning decided to announce that he wanted to live as a woman the day after he was sentenced because a military prison said it would not provide hormone treatment, his lawyer said.
David Coombs said Manning, who now wants to be known as Chelsea, had known for a long time he would make such a statement, but "she wanted, essentially, for the media surrounding the trial to dissipate".
Manning did not want people to think the statement was insincere. "People might think it was an effort to get further attention," said Mr Coombs, of Providence, Rhode Island.
The US Army says it does not provide hormone therapy, NBC News reports.
The lawyer for Bradley Manning, who wants to be known as Chelsea Manning and live life as a woman, said he would do "everything in [his] power" to make Fort Leavenworth provide the soldier with the therapy she has requested.
Bradley Manning's letter, entitled The Next Stage of My Life, was signed with a handwritten signature in the name of Chelsea Manning.
The letter was broadcast on NBC's Today show as Manning's lawyer revealed the soldier's desire to live life as a woman.
Bradley Manning's lawyer said his client chose this moment to announce a new identity to avoid overshadowing the court case.
Manning "wanted to wait until the case was done to move forward to the next stage of her life," lawyer David Coombs told NBC's Today show.
"As far as the hormone therapy - yes, I'm hoping Fort Leavenworth [where Manning will be jailed] would do the right thing and provide that," he said.
"If Fort Leavenworth does not then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that they are forced to do so."
He added that Manning's goal was not necessarily to be in a female-populated prison but "to be comfortable in her skin and to be the person that she has never had an opportunity to be."
Bradley Manning, who has requested to be referred to as Chelsea Manning, was pictured in a blonde wig in 2010.
Lawyers revealed during the trial that the soldier had emailed the above photograph to military superiors with the caption "This is my problem."
Bradley Manning released a statement to NBC News in which the former soldier requested to be known as Chelsea and to be referred to with the feminine pronoun:
Bradley Manning's lawyer has told NBC's Today show that the US soldier wants to begin hormone therapy in order to live life as a woman and be known as Chelsea Manning.