Chelsea Manning Will Be In 'Vogue's' September Issue

She was photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the magazine’s 125th anniversary issue.

After seven years in prison for handing over classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, Chelsea Manning was released this past May. She was originally sentenced to 35 years in military prison for violating the Espionage Act following the classified data leak, but former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence before he left office

Since then, the former army intelligence analyst who came out as transgender in 2013, has been using social media to tell her story. On her Twitter account, she's shared photos of herself celebrating her first Pride event since being released from prison and to speak out against President Trump's ban on transgender people in the military


Recently, Manning also used the social media platform to announce she'll grace the pages of Vogue magazine for its 125th anniversary September issue. She was photographed for the issue in a red swimsuit, running her hands through her hair by renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz. 

"Guess this is what freedom looks like," she wrote and included a link to the full Vogue profile piece.

Manning publicly revealed she's transgender the day after she was sentenced in a written statement on the Today show. While she had wanted to make the announcement earlier, she was advised to refrain because it would complicate her trial. After coming out, she remained in an all-male prison for the duration of her sentence, but became the first person to receive hormone therapy while in military prison. 

In her interview with Vogue, Manning revealed what it was like to grow up in her hometown in Oklahoma. 

"I knew that I was different," she said. "I gravitated more toward playing house, but the teachers were always pushing me toward playing the more competitive games with the boys. I spent so much time wondering, 'What's wrong with me? Why can't I fit in?'"

The 29-year-old also revealed that she regrets not coming out as transgender and showing the world who she truly is sooner. 

"That's the part of my life I replay the most: whether or not, living in Maryland and seeing a therapist [at age 19], I could have finally been able to say, 'This is who I am; this is what I want to do.' It was the first time in my life when I really considered transitioning. But I got scared. I really regret the fact that I didn't know or realize I already had the love I needed, especially from my aunt and sister — just to seek support."

She shared that she was "a bit surprised by the outpouring of love and support" she got after she did reveal that she's a transgender woman. "If there was backlash, too (and there was), she doesn't seem to have registered it — a tellingly upbeat response from a woman who now sprinkles her tweets with hearts and rainbows," Vogue's contributing editor, Nathan Heller, wrote in the piece. 

While Manning doesn't know what her future career looks like, she does have a few guiding principles she hopes to live by. "I have these values that I can connect with: responsibility, compassion. Those are really foundational for me. Do and say and be who you are because, no matter what happens, you are loved unconditionally," she said. 

"It is OK to be who I am." 


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