Chelsea Manning reveals new pic of herself after prison release ‘so here I am’
Trans whistleblower Chelsea Manning has revealed a new photo of herself after being released from prison yesterday.
In one of his final acts as President, Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Pvt Chelsea Manning, who had been imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth military prison after leaking classified government documents concerning alleged war crimes and rights abuses via WikiLeaks.
Manning, who announced her transition to female in 2013, had been denied the right to transition behind bars, leading her to make several suicide attempts.
But Manning, after posting photos of pizza and prosecco with friends, revealed a picture of herself on Instagram today.
“Okay, so here I am everyone!!” she wrote alongside a picture of herself.
Within an hour the picture was liked thousands of times on the social media site.
She also shared a picture of her feet wearing Converse with the words “First steps of freedom!!” and a photo of drinking prosecco with the caption: “Here’s to freedom and a new beginning.”
Earlier this week it was announced by the US Army that Manning would remain on active duty, unpaid, with access to healthcare.
Before the sentence being commuted, Manning attempted to take her own life more than once.
She also carried out a hunger strike and sued the US Army because they would not allow her to transition behind bars.
The military finally allowed her to undergo gender treatment, but court documents indicate that some officials are still refusing to recognise her gender identity.
It was believed that Manning, who has been incarcerated for seven years, would lose her entitlement to gender reassignment health care as it was announced that she would receive a “dishonourable discharge”.
However, last week a spokesperson for the Army, Dave Foster, also confirmed that she would remain active despite as her court-martial conviction is still under appeal.
“Pvt. Manning is statutorily entitled to medical care while on excess leave in an active duty status, pending final appellate review,” Foster said.
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“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” Manning said. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”
“Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine.
“Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts,” she added.
Manning’s lawyer, Chase Strangio, added: “Like far too many people in prison, particularly transgender women, Chelsea Manning has had to survive unthinkable violence throughout the seven years of her incarceration.”
Manning has received hormone treatment for the past six years and has been deemed eligible for sex reassignment surgery funded by the government. However, if the appeal is lost then this benefit would be lost.