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Here Is the First Picture of Chelsea Manning as a Free Woman


Yesterday, Army private Chelsea Elizabeth Manning walked out of military prison. President Obama granted Manning clemency in one of his last acts, commuting her original 35-year sentence, which Manning’s lawyer has called “perhaps the most unjust sentence in the history of the military justice system.” Manning served seven years under penal conditions in male-only detention centers before she was released.

Chelsea Manning has been a flashpoint for years, with many viewing her 2010 leaks of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks as a principled act. It certainly radically altered the world as we knew it. Amongst the information Manning sent to WikiLeaks was a trove of State Department cables and videos of atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers against unarmed civilians in Iraq. Her subsequent arrest, court martial, conviction for espionage and theft, and the state of her imprisonment, have been closely followed by the media and her supporters for years.

While imprisoned, Manning revealed that she was transgender and successfully sued for the right to receive hormone treatment—however, as the Guardian points out, she was still “subjected to male-standard hair length and dress codes,” and the conditions of her imprisonment were denounced by the UN as torture. Two years ago, I wrote an article about Manning facing indefinite solitary confinement for infractions like having a copy of Vanity Fair and using an expired tube of toothpaste.

I’ve been hoping for her release for a long time, and while I believe President Obama could have intervened sooner, I’m thankful for his clemency. Can you imagine President Trump assisting Manning’s release?

On Twitter and Instagram, Manning has been documenting her first experiences as a free woman:

And of course, her first meal (an excellent choice):

These have been heartening to follow, but it’s her lovely, confident first picture Tweeted today that thrills me. We haven’t had a picture of Chelsea Manning in a long time, and to see her, announced and publicized on her own terms, is a wonderful sight indeed.

(via The Guardian)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.