Transgender activist Chelsea Manning spoke to students on the campus of Wesleyan University in Middletown Wednesday evening. She spent seven years in a military prison after participating in one of the largest data leaks in U.S. history.
Manning detailed her experience behind bars, saying it’s a “fight in prison for trans people to survive through the struggle.” Manning alleges that harassment in prison comes mostly from the staff and not from fellow inmates.
Media were not permitted to record the event and she did not speak to reporters.
"Chelsea really spoke to that point about how we have to have community as the basis upon which we are actually doing the activism for ourselves and each other--not just to talk about or deconstruct a really sad reality,” said Demetrius Colvin, the director of Wesleyan’s student resource center which co-sponsored the event.
Speaking afterwards, he said student advocacy groups wanted to hear Manning’s story and learn more about her views on social justice education and community— part of the mission of his center on campus.
Manning said increased surveillance and the “militarism of the police” were things that scared her after leaving prison. She told students that the best way to fix societal problems is to first recognize them, then deal with them together.
Manning’s 35-year sentence was commuted by then-President Barack Obama just three days before the end of his term. Chelsea Manning was released from prison in May.