On May 17, Chelsea Manning was released from U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas after serving seven years for releasing classified military documents to WikiLeaks. On Friday morning, Manning sat down for her first interview since her release and explained why she decided to leak the documents and how she's adjusting to her freedom.
"We're getting all this information from all these different sources and it's just death, destruction, mayhem," Manning said regarding why she leaked the documents. "I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people."
A few days after she was sentenced in 2013, Manning came out as transgender. The military refused to provide her with hormone treatment for her gender dysphoria, which Manning said led to depression and distress. After Manning went on a hunger strike in September 2016, the military agreed to let her proceed with gender reassignment surgery, becoming "the first military prisoner to receive health care related to gender transition and was part of a shift in practice that lead to the elimination of the ban on open trans service in the military," according to her lawyer.
"[It] keeps me from feeling like I'm in the wrong body," Manning said of fighting for hormone treatment. "I used to get these horrible feeling like I just wanted to rip my body apart and I don't want to have to go through that experience again. It's really, really awful."
At the end of the interview, Manning concluded: "I've been given a chance. That's all I asked for was a chance. That's it, and now this is my chance."