Chelsea Manning/VogueChelsea Manning/Vogue

Trans whistleblower Chelsea Manning fronts Vogue’s September issue

The whistleblower looks radiant in red on the magazine’s cover

Chelsea Manning, former US Army analyst-turned-whistleblower, is a picture of elegance on the cover of Vogue’s prestigious September edition.

The transgender veteran was snapped by acclaimed celebrity photographer, Annie Leibovitz, and appeared in a red swimsuit strolling down a beach. In the image, Manning looks confident, but most importantly, free.

She shared the picture taken for the magazine’s 125th anniversary on Twitter, captioning it with ‘guess this is what freedom looks like’, followed by a series of positive and technicolour emojis.

Manning was recently released from prison after being sentenced to 35 years behind bars in 2013 for some of the most high-profile intelligence leaks in recent history. In 2007, during leave from service in Iraq, she sent hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. The material included a video showing US military killing scores of unarmed Iraqi citizens.

The whistleblower came out as transgender the day after she was sentenced. She underwent hormone therapy while in prison, and after serving six years of her sentence, and following numerous suicide attempts, Manning was released on 17 May by Barack Obama, who commuted her sentence in one of his final acts as US President.

Speaking to Vogue’s Nathan Heller, Manning told of her struggles with gender identity, life in the army, and the trials of prison, where she was shut away in solitary confinement. She also said that she accepted responsibility for what had happened, but that her actions were justified.

I think it’s important to remember that when somebody sees government wrongdoing – whether it’s illegal or immoral or unethical – there isn’t the means available to do something about it,’ Manning said. ‘Everyone keeps saying: “You should have gone through the proper channels!” But the proper channels don’t work.’


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