‘The wrong body’

In emotional 1st interview, Chelsea Manning talks about the hormone treatment that has kept her alive

Chelsea Manning (YouTube).

In an exclusive interview with Nightline’s JuJu Chang, Chelsea Manning spoke about her fateful decision to leak confidential military documents, the hormone treatment therapy that she described as “literally what keeps me alive” and what she wrote to former President Barack Obama in her letter asking him for leniency.

Manning, then known as 22-year-old Army private Bradley Manning, was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison after releasing more than 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. After Manning endured the longest period of imprisonment for any leaker in U.S. history — and a protracted fight with the American military over her gender — President Obama chose to commute Manning’s sentence three days before he left office.

Manning told Chang that she accepted responsibility for having leaked classified information. Rather than seeking to compromise national security, she said, her hope had been to spark public debate about civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan — as well as other evidence of “death, destruction, mayhem” that was contained in the leaked reports.

“We’re filtering it all through facts, statistics, reports, dates, times, locations, and eventually, you just stop,” Manning said. “I stopped seeing just statistics and information, and I started seeing people.”

Manning, who says she’s always identified as female, also spoke about her struggle with the government over being allowed to receive hormone treatment in the wake of her sentencing. After a protracted legal battle, Manning eventually won the right to be provided with gender transition surgery under a Department of Defense instruction for “In-Service Transition.”

The hormone treatment, Manning explained, “keeps me from feeling like I’m in the wrong body.”

“I used to get these horrible feelings, like I just wanted to rip my body apart, and I don’t want to have to go through that experience again. It’s really, really awful,” Manning admitted. She also revealed what wrote to then-President Obama in a jailhouse letter asking him for leniency. “The Army kept me in solitary confinement for nearly a year before formal charges were brought against me,” Manning wrote. “It was a humiliating and degrading experience — one that altered my mind, body and spirit. I have since been placed in solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure for an attempted suicide despite a growing effort — led by the President of the United States — to stop the use of solitary confinement for any purpose.”

Since her release from prison, Manning has been active on Instagram and Twitter — she even recorded her very first steps outside prison. And in spite of all she’d gone through, Manning said that she still had “nothing but respect” for the military.

“I’ve been given a chance,” said Manning. “That’s all I asked for.”

Watch a portion of the interview below.

Read the full story at ABC News.


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