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In her first interview since being released from prison last month, Chelsea Manning, a U.S. solider who came out as transgender while jailed for leaking army documents, shared how she felt while fighting for hormone treatments in prison.
Her requests for hormone treatments were originally denied, leading Manning to attempt suicide twice.
“I used to get these horrible feelings, like I just wanted to rip my body apart,” Manning told ABC’s Juju Chang. “[Hormone treatments are] literally what keeps me alive. It keeps me from feeling like I’m in the wrong body.”
In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking more than 700,000 classified military documents to Wikileaks. President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence shortly before leaving office, though she was not pardoned.
When asked of her concern that the leak could have put national security at risk, Manning said she had a responsibility to make the information, including a video of American soldiers killing unarmed civilians, available to the public. And though she didn’t concede to Chang’s question on if she owed Americans an apology, Manning said she had accepted the responsibility of her actions.
“You’re getting all this information, and it’s just death, destruction, mayhem, and eventually you just stop—I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people,” Manning said. “No one told me to do this, no one directed me to do this, this is me. It’s on me.”
And while she hasn’t spoken to Obama, Manning’s eyes welled and her voice choked when asked what she would say to him if she had the chance.
“Thank you. I was given a chance, that’s all I wanted,” Manning said. “That’s all I asked for, was a chance, that’s it, and this is my chance.”
Having served nearly seven years for her charge, Manning has served the longest sentence of any leaker in U.S. history, Chang said, but she’s still in the process of appealing her case for being put in solitary confinement for months with the help from the ACLU and Amnesty International.
View Manning’s full interview with Chang below:
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.