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Chelsea Manning: I Almost Gave Up, Then Got 'Second Wind'

Chelsea Manning

In her first letter from prison for Medium.com, Chelsea Manning discloses that the challenges of transitioning in a military prison recently made her so depressed she wanted to give up — but then she got a “second wind” to carry on.

“Recently, on the evening of September 18, I finally decided that maybe I should quit, to give up on everything and everyone: my family, my friends, my supporters, my court-martial appeal, and my other legal battles,” Manning writes in the post, which went up today.

The catalyst involved the enforcement of a gender-based grooming standard, says Manning, the former Army private and transgender woman who is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for providing secret military documents to Wikileaks.

“That evening I found out that the military was going to force me to keep my hair cut very short, to the ‘male’ hair standard,” she writes. “I didn’t take the news well. I felt sick. I felt sad. I felt gross  —  like Frankenstein’s monster wandering around the countryside avoiding angry mobs with torches and pitch forks.”

Manning, who is the first imprisoned soldier to receive transition-related hormone therapy (the photos above are from February, the week she began therapy), reports that she spent some time crying, then called her lawyer, Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union.

 “He did such a wonderful job just listening to me,” she writes. “After feeling devastated, humiliated, hurt, and rejected  —  and after wanting to give up on the world  —  I found my ‘second wind’ of sorts. I can make it just a little longer. I just hope it’s not too much longer.”

 Manning will chronicle her experience of transitioning in the military prison in periodic posts on the site, and she welcomes questions and feedback. Read the full post here.

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