Chelsea Manning's Supporters Are Coming Through for Her in a Big Way

After seven years of imprisonment, Chelsea Manning is about to go free. But that doesn't mean her troubles are behind her. 

Her supporters know that.

“She has endured unimaginable abuses for the seven years she has spent in custody,” Chase Strangio, an ACLU staff attorney and Manning’s lead counsel, told ATTN:, “from severe conditions of solitary confinement to the repeated denial of her health care, to the ongoing pain and indignity of being held in a facility for men even though she is a woman. The effects of these experiences will be with Chelsea for the rest of her life.”

Manning joined the military in 2007, deploying to Iraq where the Army private saw concealed evidence of wrongdoing — U.S. soldiers killing unarmed civilians; detainees being tortured, raped, and murdered by the Iraqi state — that she leaked to the public, an offense that got her sentenced to 35 years in a military prison. Ten years and a presidential pardon later and Manning is set to be freed in a matter of weeks.

But she’ll be free to live in a country where the current president thinks her an “ungrateful traitor” who should still be behind bars. And she’ll be broke in a country where housing and health care are anything but free.

Strangio wants to make the rest of her life a little easier: He’s trying to raise $100,000 by the time Manning is released from military prison on May 17. Now 29, Manning is no longer the teenager her parents named “Bradley,” but a transgender woman named Chelsea with a column in The Guardian. The transition from incarceration to civilization is never easy, and it will be especially hard for someone living in a country that her critics charge she doesn’t love.


“Leaving prison is not going to be easy and Chelsea is going to have to face the collateral consequences of her convictions and the effects of all that she endured in prison,” Strangio said. “Resources are essential for her if she is going to have a chance to live safely and freely.”

President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence on Jan. 17, one of his last acts while in office. As soon as that happened, her supporters wanted to know how they could help.

“Chelsea’s family and friends wanted to set up a fund that would transfer the money directly into Chelsea’s bank account, which is what this fundraiser will do,” Strangio said. Money raised will go toward everything it takes to live in this free country: rent, health care, and clothes, among other things. “It likely won’t cover everything,” Strangio noted, but “we are hopeful that we can reach and exceed that goal.”

Since the GoFundMe page was launched on Tuesday, supporters have donated over $47,000.

Another potential cost they might need to cover: protection. Though Manning's supports have hailed her as a whistleblower uncovering injustices perpetrated by the United States, both liberals and conservatives alike have deemed her a traitor. 

“It will be Chelsea’s decision to decide what safety and security mean to her and how to plan to meet those needs,” Strangio told ATTN:. “Hopefully the community of people who recognize Chelsea as a hero will help make sure that she has the financial, emotional and logistical tools to survive.”