Chelsea Manning Gives 1st Media Interview Since Sentencing -- to Cosmopolitan

From prison, Manning discusses her struggle with gender dysphoria.

ByABC News
April 8, 2015, 5:24 PM
Chelsea Manning poses wearing a wig and lipstick in this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army.
Chelsea Manning poses wearing a wig and lipstick in this undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army.
U.S. Army/AP Photo

— -- Chelsea Manning, the transgender Army private formerly known as Bradley Manning, has given her first interview since she was convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.

The interview, done by mail because the military does not allow prisoners to speak with reporters by phone or in person, appears in Cosmopolitan magazine -- a women’s magazine best known for its fashion, sex and dating advice.

In the article, Manning, convicted and sentenced to 35 years in a military prison in July 2013, shares details of her time in the Army and her struggles with the lifelong desire to live as a woman despite being born male.

Manning focuses on her struggle with gender dysphoria, telling the magazine she would sneak into her older sister's room to secretly spend time dressing as a girl when she was 5 or 6.

"I had always known that I was 'different.' I didn't really understand it all until I got older," Manning tells Cosmopolitan. "But there was always this foreboding sense something was 'wrong.' I never knew how to talk about it. I just remember feeling terrified about what would happen if someone found out. It was a very lonely feeling."

Manning also touches on her quest for medical care for gender dysphoria, which was diagnosed by military doctors. After more than a year without medical care, Manning and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the military. Manning is optimistic, but told the magazine she feels like “a joke” to officials in the military.

“I am torn up. I get through each day OK, but at night, when I’m alone in my room, I finally burn out and crash,” she says.

Just four days ago, it became known that Manning apparently joined Twitter from prison. In her posts, Manning revealed her plans for Twitter, thanked her supporters and shared the difficulties of tweeting while incarcerated.

"I'm hoping to stay connected with this account as much as possible but would rather tweet about more meaningful things than not #lessismore," she said in one tweet. “Tweeting from prison reqs a lot of effort and using a voice phone to dictate #90sproblems.”

Today, Manning tweeted out the Cosmopolitan article.

Manning is currently serving her 35-year sentence in maximum security at the all-male federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.