Chelsea Manning

Speaker, Chelsea Manning
LGBTQ+ activist
  • EFF Pioneer Award winner for her work as a whistleblower and advocate for transgender rights (2017).
  • “Newsmaker of the Year” by Out magazine (2017)
  • Won the “Whistleblowerpreis” from the German Section of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and the Federation of German Scientists in (2011).

During her nine months in solitary confinement, Chelsea was not allowed to sit down or exercise. Feeling powerless against this “impossible set of rules,” she began to dance. The Marines guarding her cell said there was nothing in the books against it, so this is what she did to stay alive. 

The LGBTQ+ advocate

Chelsea Elizabeth Manning is one of America’s best-known whistleblowers. The 30-year-old transgender woman and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst was sent to Iraq in 2009. In response to what she saw as massive and systemic violations of human rights, Chelsea released more than 700,000 classified documents in what is believed to be the largest disclosure of military secrets in U.S. history. Chelsea was arrested in 2010, charged 22 times under the Espionage Act and faced up to 136 years in prison. A military court convicted her of six violations and 14 other offences in 2013. The day after her 35-year sentence was handed down, Chelsea came out as transgender, immediately becoming one of the world’s most famous LGBTQ+ icons and beginning her legal fight to exist. After the Department of Defense initially refused a request for gender dysphoria treatment, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on her behalf in 2014. In 2015, she would become the first person to receive hormone therapy in a military prison. After serving seven years – nine months of it in solitary confinement – her sentence was commuted by Barack Obama in one of his final acts as president. She was released in 2017. Now a free woman, Chelsea continues to fight for LGBTQ+ and inmate rights.
“My plan is to fight. The most important thing we have to learn is that every single one of us has the ability to change things… It’s not going to happen at the ballot box.”
Chelsea in The New Yorker
  • EFF Pioneer Award winner for her work as a whistleblower and advocate for transgender rights (2017).
  • “Newsmaker of the Year” by Out magazine (2017)
  • Won the “Whistleblowerpreis” from the German Section of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and the Federation of German Scientists in (2011).

During her nine months in solitary confinement, Chelsea was not allowed to sit down or exercise. Feeling powerless against this “impossible set of rules,” she began to dance. The Marines guarding her cell said there was nothing in the books against it, so this is what she did to stay alive.