Chelsea Manning – who leaked thousands of classified US documents – has spoken for the first time about her gender transition and life in prison.
US soldier Chelsea Manning has spoken to Cosmopolitan Magazine for the first time about her gender transition in prison.
In the interview – conducted by letter – Manning was reluctant to discuss the leak for which she is famous. In 2010, Chelsea Manning, a computer analyst for the US Army, leaked hundreds of thousands of classified army documents on the Julian Assange-run website Wikileaks. She was subsequently charged as a traitor and sentenced to 35 years in military prison.
Upon sentencing, Manning revealed that she was transgender and said it was a “relief” to come out.
In the exclusive interview, Manning says that she realised she was “different” at an early age, dressing in feminine clothes as early as age five or six. “I had always known that I was ‘different.’ I didn’t really understand it all until I got older,” she says. “But there was always this foreboding sense something was ‘wrong.'”
She spent three years awaiting trial, nine months of which she was restricted to solitary confinement. However, after a public backlash, Manning was moved.
After her gender dysphoria diagnosis, and a year without medical care, Manning has been permitted to have some care but is not allowed to grow her hair long.
“The fact that Chelsea is receiving hormone therapy and other treatment for gender dysphoria is an important victory for her that will hopefully ease her distress,” says ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio.
Manning revealed that she has received letters from other trans people, thanking her for her strength and inspiration. However noted she grew up with are still prevalent in society.
“I only need to look at the recent suicide note of Leelah Alcorn in Ohio to see that the desperation and tragedy I felt growing up is still around today.” Alcorn was a transgender teen who walked into oncoming traffic, “I’ve drafted similar notes at tough times in my life.”
Manning does admit that she thinks her life might have been much different if she had felt she could come out sooner. “I think a lot of opportunities would have come easier to me if I had felt more comfortable and confident in my own skin, and not terrified of the world around me.”
You can read the full article on Cosmopolitan.com
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