Must-read interview with whistleblower-turned-trans-icon Chelsea Manning in Vogue, charting her course from a chaotic upbringing to her military stint to her time in prison, her transition, and now, her reawakening. But let’s get to the good stuff.
Today she is dressed with a mixture of straightforward elegance and function: a casual black sleeveless Marc Jacobs dress with playful paisley lining, a small purse from The Row, Borderline boots by Vetements x Dr. Martens, and—the cinching touch—a black utility belt from 5.11 Tactical, a gear company that supplies law enforcement and the military. “I’ve been a huge fan of Marc Jacobs for many, many years, even going back to when I was wearing men’s clothing,” she explains. “He captures a kind of simplicity and a kind of beauty that I like—projecting strength through femininity.”
What does she think of how the world has changed since she went in prison?
She hopes to be acclimated to a new life. For the moment, certain habits of this decade strike her as weird. Our phone fixation, for example. “We’re sitting in the same room as each other but looking at our phones constantly,” she says. “Before I was in prison, I was one of the only people on social media. I was a novelty. Now everybody’s on social media all the time!” It’s too much. “I think that’s where a lot of this miscommunication, polarization, friction, and chaos is coming from.”
How does she spend her time?
She tweets and Instagrams, Manning has tried to focus on more in-the-moment pursuits. She still loves video games, though she has forsworn the violent ones. Soon after leaving prison, she began teaching herself the programming language Rust. (“It has a lot of features that weren’t available seven years ago,” she says.) She hopes to begin dating—“I’m not planning to be single!”—but intends to wait until her life settles, in Maryland.
And what is she working on?
She is also at work on a memoir. “I’m trying to tell the story as if it was happening now and you’re with me,” she explains. Hawkins, the documentarian, says he plans to stop shooting soon, as Manning’s personal narrative finds its own way in the world: “She’s too young for this film to attempt to be the definitive story of her life.”
The takeaway quote?
“It’s not like I’m living in fear or anything,” Manning says, here in a Norma Kamali swimsuit.. “I’m so glad to be out and about and walking around.”
And the gorgeous little surprise at the end of the article? Chelsea stops to meet one of her idols, the legendary pre-Stonewall era drag icon Mother Flawless Sabrina at her Upper East Side apartment, and their conversation will leave you sobbing.
Go here, RIGHT NOW, and read the entire article.
Photo: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue.