Chelsea Manning – Before
On April 5, 2010, the world woke up to a scandal the likes of which had never been seen before. Wikileaks had released a video, entitled “Collateral Damage”, showing US helicopters firing on members of the press and innocent civilians in Iraq. At the center of this storm of controversy was one man you’d never suspect: the mild-mannered 22-year-old Private Bradley Manning, who was the source of the leak.After a turbulent childhood and a realization that he wasn’t attracted to girls like society demands, Bradley Manning caused another stir in 2013, the day after his sentencing, when she emerged as Chelsea Manning, demanding that she be referred to with the proper pronoun and announcing the next stage of a fascinating transition. She’d felt that she was a woman since childhood, and now was the time to act.
Chelsea Manning – After
In a way, Chelsea’s jail time was like a caterpillar spinning its cocoon around itself. When she emerged this year, after her 12-year sentence was commuted by Barack Obama, the hormone therapy had begun to take hold and her dream was tantalizingly close to being realized. It was a difficult time for her – prison conditions were much harsher than usual – and at one point she was on suicide watch.But Chelsea survived, and seems to be all the stronger for it. As well as taking on a new career as a contributing writer for pieces in newspapers such as The Guardian, she’s also appeared on Good Morning America to explain her ordeal. She still has many restrictions in place, like being unable to travel to Canada or comment on certain details of the leaks, but we get the feeling that Chelsea is only just beginning to soar.