Chelsea Manning has released her own podcast from prison – in which she opens up about her life, from being the victim of homophobic bullying to her transition.
Private Manning, who announced her transition to female in 2013, is currently imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth military prison after leaking details of classified government documents concerning alleged war crimes and rights abuses via WikiLeaks.
The transgender whistleblower is suing for her right to transition behind bars, as the US Military has continued to force her to present as male, including forcibly shaving her head.
She opened up about her experiences in a new podcast this week, released via Amnesty International – but there’s a catch.
As Manning is banned from being recorded or speaking directly to the press, she had to instead provide written words, which were read by an actress.
Trans actress Michelle Hendley provided a voice to Manning, for Amnesty International’s ‘In Their Own Words’ podcast.
In the podcast, Manning explains of her childhood, growing up in Wales: “I remember crying a lot and feeling weird. I felt like a freak. Other kids would pick up on things I didn’t understand, and tease me a lot.
“‘Hey girly boy, you’re so faggy, you talk like a girl, you walk like a girl, you cry a lot, you’re so gay.’
“It was a constant reminder of how different I was, and how little I understood about how people perceived me.”
She adds that she grew up as part of the internet’s “thriving gay community”, making many friends before she realised she was female.
Amnesty International explained: “Chelsea wrote to us and told us about her life in prison now, as well as the back story – how she came to be who she is and do what she did.
“She is spending decades in prison because she shared information that she thought could shed a light on potential abuses and prompt meaningful public debate on the conflict…
“Meanwhile, the US government has not investigated the abuses she exposed – while Chelsea has paid a high price for putting that information in the public realm.”
Private Manning said: “I have to say, I cried a few times listening to this. Hearing her speak, and tell the story.
“She sounds like me. It sounds like the way I would tell my story
The most recently released image of Manning
She added: “I feel like I’ve been stored away for all this time without a voice or the ability to show my love and support to the folks who need it.
“I feel like there’s so much of a contribution to society that I could be making. I spend every day looking forward to the hope that one day I can give that a go.”