Transgender US whistleblower Chelsea Manning shares first picture of herself since release

Chelsea Manning was released from a US military prison on May 17, 2017.
Chelsea Manning was released from a US military prison on May 17, 2017. PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM / XYCHELSEA87, EPA

NEW YORK (REUTERS/AFP) - One day after being released from a top-security US military prison, transgender former soldier Chelsea Manning – who served seven years for one of the largest dumps of classified documents in US history– unveiled her new look on Thursday (May 19).

Manning, a former army intelligence analyst, posted a picture of herself on social media with short blonde hair, lipstick and mascara, wearing a V-neck navy blue top with white trim. She included the caption: "Okay, so here I am everyone!! #HelloWorld".

Many on social media congratulated Manning's newfound freedom, with her post receiving 33,000 likes and 7,600 retweets within the day.

The photo replaced an old Twitter profile picture that had shown Manning in her previous incarnation as Bradley Manning, a male soldier in military uniform and beret.  

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On her release from Fort Leavenworth’s all-male prison on Wednesday, Manning had vowed to put her previous life behind her and said she was “excited” about the future.  

Her social media posts immediately after her release showed people clinking champagne glasses with the caption, “Here’s to a new beginning.”

Another post showed a single slice of pepperoni pizza on a plate, with the words “So, I’m already enjoying my first hot, greasy pizza,” followed by a smiley-face emoticon.  

 
 

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail in 2013 for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks three years earlier while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq. 

She twice tried to take her own life last year while in jail, before then-president Barack Obama commuted her sentence just days before he left office in January.  

In a statement to ABC news, Manning said: “As I rebuild my life, I remind myself not to relive the past. The past will always affect me and I will keep that in mind while remembering that how it played out is only my starting point, not my final destination.”