*Membership spots not really limited!
(CNN) -- "I am Chelsea Manning."
With those words, read from a statement on NBC's "Today" show on Thursday, Bradley Manning immediately shifted public conversation away from the Army private's conviction on espionage charges to gender identity.
"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me," Manning said in the statement. "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."
While his supporters may back Manning, the Army said Thursday it won't.
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One Army official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about Manning's case, said the private remains a male in the eyes of the Army. Another said Manning would be treated like any other prisoner.
"A lot of the inmates have issues they're dealing with," said the second official, who also was not authorized to speak publicly about Manning's case. "Even if you have gender identity disorder, you still serve your sentence."
That includes access -- like any other inmate -- to mental health professionals like psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and behavioral expects, said Kimberly Lewis, a spokeswoman at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Manning will be held.
She added those diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the medical term for those who identify with another gender, "must still complete their sentence" without hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery provided by the Army.
The Human Rights Campaign, though, insisted Thursday that the military should grant Manning's wishes.
He should have thought of that BEFORE HE betrayed HIS country.