Chelsea Manning, the trans woman and whistleblower who was sentenced to 35 years for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has shared her first Instagram photos following her release. Born Bradley Manning, she now goes by Chelsea and is celebrating her new freedom after President Barack Obama commuted her sentence on Jan. 17, 2017. While Chelsea has celebrated her release by toasting with champagne and indulging in pizza, she is also being slammed by Internet trolls for being transgender. Ironically, Chelsea Manning’s release on May 17, 2017, coincided with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. You may see the current photo of Chelsea Manning as she shared it on Instagram below.
Chelsea’s release comes after spending nearly seven years in Fort Leavenworth. Though President Obama commuted her service, there is still an appeal case that keeps Manning in the military. She hasn’t been officially discharged and remains in the service under a special status. NBC News described the legalities of Manning’s current status and how that impacts her release as they spoke with Chelsea Manning’s attorney David Coombs.
“Chelsea is still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). She wouldn’t be charged again for the same offenses, but if she committed a new crime, the military would still have jurisdiction over her.”
“You would want to be careful in terms of what you want to write or say if you’re still under military control. Let’s say you write something critical, now you run the real chance of being called on the carpet for that.”
Fort Leavenworth is an all-male military prison, and her supporters found the sentence for Manning, who publicly announced her gender identity issues, extremely cruel and harsh. She had requested a transfer but was denied. In the NBC News article, another of Manning’s attorneys discussed the freedom Chelsea now has to express her true gender identity. He mentioned how Manning had to keep her hair short in accordance with Fort Leavenworth’s rules. In the recent photo Manning shared today, we can see her hair is cut short. Now that Manning is free to express herself, we might see her hair grow in other photos.
The ACLU attorney told the following to NBC News.
“After so many years of government control over her body and gender, I know she is eager to grow her hair, express her gender and negotiate decisions on her own terms.”
While many debate Chelsea Manning’s actions and the impact whistleblowing and leaking has on U.S. safety, there are some who take their attacks against Manning to a different level. Beyond disagreeing with her political beliefs and actions, there are those who have shared their negative opinions about Chelsea Manning based upon her being transgender.
The comments under Chelsea Manning’s Instagram profile photo include plenty of support but others who are expressing hateful statements targeting her gender identity. The same is true on the official WikiLeaks’ Facebook page. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have been outspoken in their support for Chelsea Manning and openly celebrated her release on Wednesday. Still, there are many who have left negative comments and remarks degrading Chelsea for her gender identity.
In the following Facebook post, you can read the negative comments that try to detract from Chelsea Manning’s freedom. Manning doesn’t seem to be deterred by the negativity, however, and instead, she shared a new profile photo.
Here are other photos Chelsea shared on her new Instagram account, along with the hateful comments by Internet trolls.
What do you think of Chelsea Manning’s release? Do you believe she is a hero or a traitor? Do you approve of the hateful comments directed towards her for being transgender?
[Featured Image By Alexander Demyanenko/Shutterstock]