After serving seven years in a military prison for men despite being a woman, Chelsea Manning is free. She was released Wednesday and opened up an Instagram account soon after. Over the past 24 hours, she has gained about 29,000 follows (and counting) and posted pictures of a handful of firsts: steps of freedom, a slice of pizza, a glass of champagne, and her latest look. Yup, Manning posted a portrait of herself — and she looks lovely. It’s complete with poppy red lipstick and a sandy blonde cropped hair with wispy bangs. The caption reads, “Okay, so here I am everyone!! #HelloWorld.” In just two hours, it’s received over 11,000 likes — again, and counting. This is the first time we’ve seen Chelsea Manning as her free, true self.
Back in 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act after giving WikiLeaks classified information about military and diplomatic affairs. Soon after her sentencing, she revealed she is transgender. At first, she was deprived of hormone therapy. About a year later, Manning was approved to receive treatment for her gender dysmorphia in February of 2015. Since then, we’ve only seen a digital rendering of how Manning sees herself. Seven years later, here Manning is as a free woman and is sharing her face with the world.
View on Instagram
Manning’s lengthy sentence was commuted by President Obama after she sent him a letter in which she pled for freedom, citing terrible conditions and constant solitary confinement, which has been called “inhumane” by the ACLU. Just days before leaving office, Obama finally heeded her request on January 17 of this year.
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