Transgender ex-soldier unveils new post-jail look

Transgender former soldier Chelsea Manning one day after being released from a top-security US military prison.
Transgender former soldier Chelsea Manning one day after being released from a top-security US military prison. PHOTO: AFP

Chelsea Manning vows to put old life behind her after serving 7 years for intelligence leaks

WASHINGTON • One day after being released from a top-security United States military prison, transgender former soldier Chelsea Manning - who served seven years for one of the largest dumps of classified documents in US history - has unveiled her new look.

Ms Manning, 29, a former army intelligence analyst, posted a picture of herself on social media on Thursday with short blonde hair, lipstick and mascara, wearing a V-neck navy blue top with white trim.

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

On her release from Fort Leavenworth's all-male prison on Wednesday, Ms Manning 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 phrase, "So, I'm already enjoying my first hot, greasy pizza", followed by a smiley-face emoticon.


Ms Chelsea Manning replaced an old social media profile photo showing her as Private Bradley Manning, after she was released from prison. She was jailed for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

As Pte Manning, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks three years earlier.

She served seven years, and twice tried to take her own life last year alone, before then President Barack Obama commuted her sentence just days before he left office in January. He called the punishment "very disproportionate" to the crime.

While in custody, she announced she was a female and requested medical treatment - including hormone therapy - to enable her to become a woman.

In a legal battle in military courts, she won the support of judges to be referred to as a woman, and to receive therapy for so-called gender "reassignment".

In a statement to ABC News, Ms 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."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'Transgender ex-soldier unveils new post-jail look'. Print Edition | Subscribe