August 11, 2017 at 1:12 pm EST | by Mariah Cooper
Chelsea Manning appears in Vogue’s September issue

(Photo via Vogue.)

Chelsea Manning seemed to officially kick off her new life in a profile piece for Vogue’s September 125th Anniversary Collector’s Edition issue.

Manning, who served seven years in prison for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, sported a red, one-piece swimsuit for the upcoming issue in a photo shot by Annie Leibovitz.

She tweeted the photo along with the caption,“Guess this is what freedom looks like.”

Former President Barack Obama granted clemency to Manning as one of his final acts as president. She was released in May and has been living in New York City.

Manning told Vogue she accepts responsibility for her actions but believes the government needs an overhaul for real change to be made.

“I think it’s important to remember that when somebody sees government wrongdoing—whether it’s illegal or immoral or unethical—there isn’t the means available to do something about it,” Manning says. “Everyone keeps saying, You should have gone through the proper channels! But the proper channels don’t work.”

Manning also says being able to truly live as who she really is has lifted a giant weight off her shoulders.

“It feels natural. It feels like it’s how it’s supposed to be, instead of this anxiety, this uncertainty, this ball of self-consciousness that comes with pretending to be male,” Manning told Vogue. “It didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what it was. I couldn’t describe it. Now that’s gone.”

As for her future career plans, Manning is still taking time to figure it all out. But she says a memoir is in the works.

“My goal is to use these next six months to figure out where I want to go,” Manning says. “I have these values that I can connect with: responsibility, compassion. Those are really foundational for me. Do and say and be who you are because, no matter what happens, you are loved unconditionally. Unconditional love. It is OK to be who I am.”

Vogue’s September issue hits stands Aug. 22.

 

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