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Chelsea Manning family: Gender transition was a shock but we support her

Speaking to TheJournal.ie in Dublin yesterday, Manning’s family said the were proud of her for leaking the classified documents and would not give up hope of her release.

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Left to right, Mary and Kevin Fox, Sharon Staples and Chelsea’s mother, Susan Manning (Image: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie).

THE FAMILY OF former US Army private Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified information, have opened up about her gender transition, telling TheJournal.ie that the family completely supports her.

In an interview in Dublin yesterday, Manning’s aunt Sharon Staples said: “We haven’t got a problem with it, it came as a shock, but we haven’t got a problem with it.”

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Manning’s uncle, Kevin Fox (Image: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie).

Her uncle, Kevin Fox said it was difficult to get used to the name change and joked that perhaps she chose ‘Chelsea’ because of the Premier League football team.

Staples said Manning is “happier now” that her sentence has been handed down and she knows she is eligible for parole before then .

I think its a relief, it was the not knowing, she didn’t know what to expect, so at least she knows and a lot can happen in nine years.

“She says the inmates there have accepted her and she’s not having any problems,” she said. “It was surprising because I thought there might have been one or two.”

Leaking documents

The family all said they were proud of Manning for leaking the documents, which included Iraq and Afghan war logs, and said they did not know she had the strength to endure everything she has been through.

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Sharon Staples, Manning’s aunt (Image: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie).

Staples commented:

To look at him you wouldn’t have thought it because he’s only a small little weed of a person, sort of in a little shell and when I think of what he went through in Quantico, it would have cracked me, I think I would have had some kind of breakdown. But it didn’t with him.

Manning’s aunt Mary said that growing up “if he was going to do things, he was going to do it big”.

“He was computer mad”

Her relatives spoke fondly about her keen interest in technology which started from a young age.

“He didn’t have one computer, he had two or there and he’d link them up – he was computer mad,” Staples said. “He’d come down to us for Sunday dinner with Susan and it was as much as you could do to get him to sit and eat, he wanted to be upstairs with the computer.”

She added that, growing up, Manning strived to do the right thing and “always wanted to do it his way”.

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Susan Manning pictured in Dublin yesterday (Image: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie).

Manning’s mother, Susan, has been in ill health since a major stroke in 2006, and has been unable to visit her youngest child in prison.

However her sister, Sharon Staples, plans to visit the military prison in February next year and she said the campaign for her release will “go on and on until she’s free”.

‘The Manning family are in Dublin to meet with TDs and attend ‘an evening for Private Manning’ hosted by Afri at Edmund Burke Theatre in Trinity tonight at 7.30pm. More details: http://www.afri.ie and http://www.privatemanning.org/

Related: “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female.”>

Read: Fox News mocks Chelsea Manning with “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)”>

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