It really was only a matter of time after Chelsea Manning‘s (well overdue) release from prison that somebody would nab her for a big cover shoot and story. That somebody is The New York Times Magazine, and it’s very much worth a squiz.
As far back as Chelsea Manning can remember, to her earliest days in Crescent, on the far edge of the Oklahoma City metro area, she suffered from a feeling of intense dislocation, something constant and psychic that she struggled to define to herself, much less to her older sister, Casey, or her parents, Brian and Susan. During one of our interviews, I mentioned that I heard a clinical psychologist compare gender dysphoria to a “giant, cosmic toothache.” Manning flushed. That was it exactly, she agreed: “Morning, evening, breakfast, lunch, dinner, wherever you are. It’s everywhere you go.”
Manning told me her decision to provide the information to WikiLeaks was a practical one: She originally planned to deliver the data to The New York Times or The Washington Post, and for the last week of her leave, she dodged from public phone to public phone, calling the main office lines for both papers, leaving a message for the public editor at The Times and engaging in a frustrating conversation with a Post writer, who said she would have to know more about the files before her editor would sign off on an article. A hastily arranged meeting with Politico, where she hoped to introduce herself to the site’s security bloggers, was scrapped because of bad weather. “I wanted to try to establish a contact in a way that it couldn’t be traced to me,” Manning told me. But she was running out of time. She describes a clearheaded sense of purpose coming over her: “I needed to do something,” she told me. “And I didn’t want anything to stop that.”