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Chelsea Manning remains one of the most well-known—and controversial—transgender women in the world. While some Americans applaud her as a progressive activist and whistleblower, others view her as a traitor to the United States. But in an interview with Vogue in its coveted September issue, Manning shows a softer, personal side. One that’s often ignored by the media.
For one, Manning talks about her coming out on the Today show. For her, revealing herself to the world via a public statement was exciting, but “happened a little bit sooner and a little faster” than she initially hoped.
“I was honestly a bit surprised by the outpouring of love and support that I got,” Manning told Vogue.
She also mentions how weird it was to come out of prison after seven years and see everyone fixated on their phones. “Before I was in prison, I was one of the only people on social media. I was a novelty. Now everybody’s on social media all the time!” she says. “I think that’s where a lot of this miscommunication, polarization, friction, and chaos is coming from.”
These days, Manning finds herself enjoying New York City’s social scene more than her life in Washington, D.C., before transitioning. A self-identified extrovert, people are much more outgoing in New York, she says. And New York gave Manning the opportunity to explore the city without being recognized. She could simply go from place to place, and she would blend in with the world.
“It’s not like I’m living in fear or anything,” Manning said. “I’m so glad to be out and about and walking around.”
It’s unclear what’s next for Manning, but there are certainly many options. She’s currently teaching herself the programming language Rust. She wants to start dating soon enough (“I’m not planning to be single!” she told Vogue). And she’s working on a memoir about her life. No matter what path Manning goes, it’s sure to be exciting.
“I’m trying to tell the story as if it was happening now and you’re with me,” she said. That may just give the world a chance to understand Manning’s life a little better, and with a little bit more empathy.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.