One Small Step For Chelsea Manning, One Giant Leap For Transwomen #ChelseaIsFree
Chelsea is Free. Chelsea Manning was imprisoned 7 years ago after being court-martialed by the military and convicted of 20 offenses, including six Espionage Act violations, five theft counts and a computer fraud charge. The combined maximum prison time for these crimes could have been 136 years but she was sentenced to 35. Chelsea was then held in a male institution, ill equipped to deal with a transgendered woman, and spent an unconscionable time in solitary confinement. Her sentence was commuted by President Obama, who felt she’d had a tough time in prison and that her sentence was disproportionate to other leakers. While Obama didn’t pardon her, he felt justice had been served by the amount of time already served and commuting her sentence enabled Chelsea to walk out of prison today. Whether you agree with her actions or not, Chelsea was motivated by concern for her country, a belief that she was exposing wrongdoing by the U.S. military and diplomats. Perhaps not a hero to everyone but she believed she was doing the right thing. I mean, it’s not like she leaked info directly to someone from a hostile country while bragging about how much sensitive information she had…
From Chelsea’s May 9th press release:
“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea. I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine. Now, freedom is something that I will again experience with friends and loved ones after nearly seven years of bars and cement, of periods of solitary confinement, and of my health care and autonomy restricted, including through routinely forced haircuts. I am forever grateful to the people who kept me alive, President Obama, my legal team and countless supporters.
“I watched the world change from inside prison walls and through the letters that I have received from veterans, trans young people, parents, politicians and artists. My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own. I hope to take the lessons that I have learned, the love that I have been given, and the hope that I have to work toward making life better for others.”
The clemency request submitted to President Obama on Chelsea Manning’s behalf: