Updates via Pvt. Manning Family Fund and WiseUp Wales

News from Leavenworth: Chelsea Manning receives a family visit

Work, Study, Mail Order Shoes and Junk Mail!

But first London

On Monday 3 February, a group of long-time supporters of Chelsea Manning welcomed her aunt Sharon and uncle Joe to Giuseppe Conlon Catholic Worker House in London. Sharon and Joe were to fly out from Heathrow the next day and would be visiting Chelsea at Fort Leavenworth the next weekend along with Chelsea’s sister Casey. This was to be the first visit since Chelsea was convicted last August and sentenced to 35 years in jail (for telling the truth about the wars being fought in our names and more) following over three years in pretrial detention. The Private Manning Family Fund paid for both the Transatlantic and internal flights for this trip along with a contribution to a night in a hotel and other travel expenses. All this came from donations and fundraising events, so a big Thank You to everyone who has given to the fund over the past six months.

Emmy cooked a wonderful lunch for us and we were treated by Razz, John McClean, Dave Turley and Eden Boucher to musical entertainment including solidarity songs that have featured at many of the London vigils for Manning over the past three years. Later the same day Sharon, Joe and Ciaron visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

As we wished Sharon and Joe a safe journey and a successful visit, we were anxious about how the trip would work out. They had previously been turned away from Quantico Brig and had very nearly been refused entry on their last visit to Leavenworth over documentation requirements they hadn’t been told about in advance, resulting in what should have been a visit of several hours after travelling thousands of miles being cut down to just 40 minutes. When Casey called Joe in the middle of the day to say there was a problem this time over documentation that had to be sorted NOW or the visit would be refused, we feared the worst. So it has been a huge relief for us to hear that the visits were a success and everything went smoothly, although right up to the day before the first visit, Sharon and Joe had still not heard for sure that everything was in order.


Chelsea is focused, keeping busy and in good spirits

Sharon and Joe have brought back reassuring news from Fort Leavenworth of Chelsea’s living conditions, her mood and how she’s occupying her time. Chelsea is busy working on her appeal and has a desk and a typewriter in her room that she can use for this purpose. She also spends a lot of time in the prison library and has a job in the kitchens doing a variety of tasks on a fortnightly rota. The Private Manning Support Network has arranged for her to receive the Washington Post and New York Times every day and family members have set up subscriptions to scientific journals Chelsea requested. Emma from PMSN is assisting Chelsea with organising the educational courses she wants to take and is keeping in regular contact by phone.

The visiting arrangements sound relaxed, with all the prisoners and their visitors in a large visiting room, able to make physical contact and with the guards giving them plenty of space. Casey, who had seen Chelsea during the trial, commented that she was now looking much better and had regained a bit of weight. Chelsea acknowledged this and said she had been under a lot of stress during the trial (no surprises there). The visiting room had vending machines but Chelsea refused the offer of ‘anything you like’ from them, saying that she’s now sticking to a healthy diet and has got used to not eating any junk food!

Chelsea might be successfully avoiding junk food, but there’s no escaping junk mail even in prison, most recently an invitation to buy double glazing and a conservatory! So, how would a double glazing company get Chelsea’s Leavenworth contact details? Probably not from the Write Chelsea section of the Support Network website (follow the link for Chelsea’s address and instructions on how to send her real mail). Prisoners have to wear prison issue clothes but are allowed their own shoes and Chelsea had also been given back her own glasses. She had sent for a new pair of navy and white Converse trainers by mail order; this might explain the junk mail but she’s chuffed with the shoes!

Support for Chelsea in Kansas City

Sharon, Joe and Casey made two visits to Chelsea during their weekend stay in Kansas, on the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, three hours each time. On Saturday evening, Sharon and Joe met Frank Cordaro of Des Moines Catholic Worker, along with Ann Suellentrop and Marc Saviano who spoke about local support for Chelsea and offered to assist family members with future visits including accommodation in Kansas City if required.

The Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence

Chelsea Manning is the recipient of this year’s Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence, presented at the Oxford Union on 19 February. Read more about the award on wiseupaction.info. Report and photos now here.


Open Letter: Kate Bornstein to Chelsea Manning | Out Magazine

Open Letter: Kate Bornstein to Chelsea Manning | Out Magazine


By Kate Bornstein

The trans pioneer reaches out to the recently sentenced whistleblower

Editors’ Note: We are aware that Chelsea Manning will not have
access to this open letter right away. According to the Leavenworth
prisoners’ handbook, Manning will not have Internet access, so we will physically mail this to her (there’s a whole procedure to follow if we want it to get to her, and we have to use her “Bradley” name and prison number, once it’s assigned), so if anyone wants to also send the physical letter, please do.

Dear Chelsea,
Hello. My name is Kate Bornstein. I invite you to think of me as your whacky old aunt who loves you very much, and wants only the very best for you. I’m 65—a very old lady, indeed. I was born boy in 1948. I legally became girl in 1986 at the age of 38—I was 10 years older than you when I openly began my transition in 1983.

But enough about me. Let’s get right to you, missy. I know—well, the
whole web-connected world has access to the information—that you’ve lived through the horror of “extreme solitary confinement” for months on end. You are the surrvivor of over-the-top cruel and unusual punishment, the kind of cruel and unusual punishment you’re likely to face over the next decade, honey, when you face active and potentially violent opposition to you simply being the girl you know you are.

It’s easier to use the labels boy and girl than man and woman.
Men and women—both cisgender and transgender—are very possessive about those labels, so I’ve found it easier to claim neither gender as my own. A lot of people are upset with you because you’re tampering with the notion of what it means to be a woman. I do that too—I break the laws of gender. So, I call myself a Gender Outlaw. My neither/nor gender status has been a choice. Your current in-between gender state has been forced on you, and it breaks my heart. I wish I could hug and comfort you.

continue reading here: Open Letter: Kate Bornstein to Chelsea Manning | Out Magazine.