The history of Bradley Manning’s ‘My Problem’ e-mail

August 22, 2013

In April of 2010, while serving in Iraq, Bradley Manning sent an e-mail to a superior, Master Sgt. Paul Adkins, with the subject line, “My Problem.”

The e-mail discussed gender identification issues, and Manning attached a photo of himself in a blonde wig and lipstick. It appears the photo was taken three months earlier, when Manning was on leave from the military, staying in suburban Maryland.

About the same time, Manning began transmitting classified information to WikiLeaks.

The gender issue is“ not going away, its haunting me more and more as I get older,” Manning said in the e-mail. “Now, the consequences of it are dire, at a time when its causing me great pain in itself . . . .I don’t know what to do anymore, and the only ‘help’ that seems to be available is severe punishment and/or getting rid of me. All I do know is that the fear of getting caught has caused me to go to great lengths to consciously hide the problem.”

On Thursday, the revelation that Manning identifies as a woman and wants to be known as Chelsea came as a shock to some. But Manning’s gender issues have long been known to friends and family, as well as some in the military, including Adkins.

Adkins did not forward the e-mail to his superiors until after Manning had been arrested in May 2010. A formal diagnosis of gender identification disorder would have resulted in a separation from the Army for Manning.

About the same time, Manning was seeing a psychologist at the base in Iraq, Capt. Michael Worsley. Manning started counseling with Worsley in December 2009 but did not reveal the issue until after being brought in for a mandatory counseling session — after striking another soldier — in May 2010.

Manning’s supervisor brought a hard copy of the e-mail to the emergency counseling session with Worsley, who diagnosed Manning with a gender identity disorder on May 8, 2010.

“Being in the military and having a gender identity issue does not exactly go hand-in-hand,” Worsley said during Manning’s court-martial.

Worsley continued to see Manning weekly through the month of May and discussed various options with the private, including “chaptering him out” of the military because of the “long-term issue.”

Adkins sent the “My Problem” e-mail to his company’s command after Manning was arrested at the end of May 2010. Adkins testified that when he received the e-mail, he thought he should talk to Manning about the contents but not forward it up the chain of command.

He said he was concerned it “would be disseminated among the brigade staff. . . and I really didn’t think at the time that having a picture floating around of one of my soldiers in drag was in the best interests of the mission.”

Adkins also testified that Manning’s position “as an analyst was important to the mission. And my intent was to make sure, if I could possibly do it, that he could maintain his functionality as an intelligence analyst.”

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