Chelsea Manning’s first photograph of herself as a free transgender woman is accompanied by six simple words.
“Okay, so here I am everyone!!”
She posted the picture on Instagram after her release from military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she served seven years of her 35-year sentence for distributing troves of U.S. military documents to Wikileaks.
In her stunning, poignant profile pic, Manning still sports the short haircut that she was forced to keep while in prison, in accordance with the two-inch length limit imposed by the United States Disciplinary Barracks male hairstyle standards.
But from other details — the red lipstick, the serene blue eyes — she looks relaxed, as she’s starting to adjust to life outside prison.
In a statement to reporters, the American Civil Liberties Union said the photograph is “the preferred image to use in stories about Chelsea moving forward for the time being.”
Previously, most media outlets were using a grainy black-and-white selfie to illustrate Manning in articles.
As reported by The Verge, the image, which Manning sent to her therapist and her commanding officer in 2010 as an attachment to a private email, was never meant to become public.
It was released during Manning’s trial in August 2013 and since then appeared virtually everywhere.
Unsatisfied by the crude selfie, Manning authorised Alicia Neal, a Philadelphia artist, to draw a portrait of her with long hair.
But this is the first photograph of Manning as a free woman.