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Chelsea Manning: 'I’d Long Known I Was a Woman, But I’d Been Afraid'


Manning pens a candid essay for The Guardian about "being in public as a woman for the very first time."

Chelsea Manning remains in federal prison for leaking government documents. Arrested in 2010 on charges of espionage and sentenced to 35 years, Manning has since come out as a transgender woman following her imprisonment.

While Manning has struggled with appeals and attempted suicide, she most recently wrote an essay published in The Guardian titled, "Facing My Fear: Being in Public as a Woman for the Very First Time."

"I'd long known I was a woman, but I'd been afraid, and a bit embarrassed, to appear publicly as myself before this," Manning writes. "Not only was I worried that I could lose my already-tenuous connections with my family, but I was terrified that I could face administrative, or even criminal, charges from the military. It was the height of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and we in the queer and trans community lived in fear on a regular basis."

Manning recalls making her first women's clothing purchase. She "walked out of the store, moving with purpose." After buying makeup, Mannning put the ensemble together and walked out in public. "It felt very natural, and I was able to blend in to the crowd as myself."

Manning continues: "Being myself for a whole day taught me a few lessons: trying to meet the expectations that I believed were placed on me by society was unsustainable. I was miscast in the play of life, and it was urgent that I admit that, sooner rather than later. Joy, confidence and security can't begin until we are able to just be ourselves."

Read the full essay at The Guardian.

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