Testimony during his sentencing hearing revealed that Manning is transgender..
From an article on The Atlantic Wire website
In an April 24, 2010 email to his supervisor at the time, Master Sgt. Paul Adkins, Manning confessed he was transgender, and that he joined the Army, basically, to "get rid of it." The subject line was "My Problem." The email said,
This is my problem. I’ve had signs of it for a very long time. It’s caused problems within my family. I thought a career in the military would get rid of it. It’s not something I seek out for attention, and I’ve been trying very, very hard to get rid of it by placing myself in situations where it would be impossible. But, it’s not going away; it’s haunting me more and more as I get older. Now, the consequences of it are dire, at a time when it’s causing me great pain it itself…
I don't know what to do anymore, and the only "help" that seems available is severe punishment and/or getting rid of me.
I thought the author of the article did a good job of summarizing the recent revelations about Manning. Whatever I might think about Manning's actions, I sympathize with the statements in his e-mail. He wouldn't be the first person who tried to "fix" his gender identity issues by going into the military.
I'm interested to see what public reaction will be. Most coverage I've seen so far has been pretty low-key (although I have seen headlines like "Bradley Manning: Blond bombshell? Army releases photo of him as cross-dresser").
I am concerned that casual observers may conclude from Manning's story that all those who find themselves outside "normal" gender boundaries are inherently unstable, I hope that's not the case.